ACCIDENTS & INJURIES

Witness recounts tragic aftermath of propeller incident that killed 3-year-old boy

Aug 15, 2023, 5:54 PM | Updated: 5:55 pm

SUMMIT COUNTY, Utah — A man who witnessed the emergency response to a fatal boating incident at Echo Reservoir recounted what happened on Sunday.

A spokesman with Utah State Parks said 3-year-old Walter Greer, of Salt Lake City, was killed after he fell off a boat while it was running and was struck by a propeller.

Investigators said he was wearing a life jacket, and no foul play was suspected. They said drugs and alcohol were not involved, and the boaters were water skiing at the time.

3-year-old killed after falling off boat, being hit by propeller at Echo Reservoir

“Everything was normal. Everyone was out on the lake having a good time,” said witness Zach Bear, who was on the water with friends Sunday.

He said dozens of families and friends were there to soak up the last few weekends of summer.

“It’s more peaceful, there’s not a lot of boats on the water,” Bear said.

That peace was interrupted when first responders arrived on the scene.

“We all decided we were going to go home, and right after we showed up to the docking station, that’s when we saw it was a much larger presence,” Bear said. “Fire trucks, ambulance, the medivac flight crew.”

When Bear exited his boat to get his car, he knew something significant happened on the lake.

“Everybody knew it was a tragic thing that had happened,” he said.

A medical helicopter that landed at the Echo Reservoir. (Courtesy: Zach Bear)

Once he got on shore, his heart sank. Bear said his time in the military helped him understand what was happening.

“When we did show up to the docking station, there was a little tent, and then it had a white sheet around it,” he said.

Bear said first responders and park rangers told him a toddler had been hurt.

“I walked out of the ranger station, and it happened to be the family sitting all right there where the benches were at,” he said.

Bear spoke to the Greer family on the shore, offering his condolences to them.

“I had asked one of them if this was all for them, and they had said yes, and they were trying to take it all in,” he said. “I remember saying, ‘I’m so sorry for your loss.'”

Greer’s family said he was enjoying a day on the lake with his parents, two sisters, and friends when he fell off the boat, struck the propeller, and died.

“Wet hair, they had just gotten out of the lake. It just kind of seemed they were trying to take it all in,” Bear said about Greer’s family.

First responders at the scene at Echo Reservoir. (KSL TV)

He said visitors hurried to get off the lake as the scene became very somber.

“Everybody there needed to collect themselves, kind of chaotic,” Bear said.

Bear said he was told some of the first responders were visibly impacted by the situation.

“I think anybody that would see that, especially with a child, would need a little bit to decompress,” he said.

Bear says his heart goes out to the boy’s family.

“I’ll never be able to forget seeing them, and knowing what I know now, it’s got to be very hard for them,” he said.

In a statement to KSL TV, Greer’s family wrote, “We are devastated to be saying goodbye to our darling Walter so unexpectedly. Walter was an absolute joy who loved Spiderman, trains, trucks, and his red boots. We are so blessed to have Walter as a forever part of our family. He is so loved, and we hold his memory close until we meet again.”

A GoFundMe* is online to help with the family’s funeral and counseling expenses.


*KSL TV does not assure that the money deposited to the account will be applied for the benefit of the persons named as beneficiaries. If you are considering a deposit to the account, you should consult your own advisors and otherwise proceed at your own risk.

KSL 5 TV Live

Accidents & Injuries

FILE: A Payson police vehicle is pictured on Monday, March 22, 2021. (Steve Griffin, Deseret News)...

Mark Jones

One person critically injured in Payson crash, involving a semitruck

One person was critically injured Wednesday following a crash between a small passenger vehicle and a semitruck, according to Payson police.

11 hours ago

Rescuers pulling the driver of a semitruck out from the rubble after an explosion....

Brittany Tait

Unified police officer rescues driver from burning semi in Little Cottonwood

A heroic officer and bystanders rescued the driver of a semitruck after a fiery rollover crash in Little Cottonwood Canyon.

1 day ago

While travelling along a curve, Brandon Garrett's car crashed, leaving him and his dogs stranded in...

Kaila Nichols, CNN

After he drove off an embankment and became stranded in a ravine, this man’s dog traveled 4 miles to find help

An Oregon man's dog traveled four miles alone to get help after his owner crashed and lost consciousness.

1 day ago

The Provo River, as pictured here on Wednesday, June 5, 2024, is already running high and fast. Off...

Carlysle Price and Garna Mejia

Boy rescued from Provo River, marking fourth rescue response this week

A 13-year-old boy with special needs was rescued from the Provo River Tuesday afternoon.

1 day ago

Steve Klauke, was the voice of the Salt Lake Bees through the 2023 season. He was hit and killed by...

Josh Ellis and Alex Cabrero

Update: Man killed in Sandy auto-pedestrian collision is identified as Steve Klauke

Police confirmed to KSL TV on Tuesday the man killed in Monday night's auto-pedestrian collision is former Salt Lake Bees radio announcer Steve Klauke.

2 days ago

Moab resident Daniel Wright, rescuing a father of two, after he fell off his inflatable kayak in th...

Michael Houck

Two Moab men save a family of three from drowning in the Colorado River

Search and crew crews are crediting two Moab men for saving a father and his two sons from drowning in the Colorado River on Thursday.

2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Photo courtesy of Artists of Ballet West...

Ballet West

The rising demand for ballet tickets: why they’re harder to get

Ballet West’s box office is experiencing demand they’ve never seen before, leaving many interested patrons unable to secure tickets they want.

Electrician repairing ceiling fan with lamps indoors...

Lighting Design

Stay cool this summer with ceiling fans

When used correctly, ceiling fans help circulate cool and warm air. They can also help you save on utilities.

Side view at diverse group of children sitting in row at school classroom and using laptops...

PC Laptops

5 internet safety tips for kids

Read these tips about internet safety for kids so that your children can use this tool for learning and discovery in positive ways.

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why printer security should be top of mind for your business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light up your home with these top lighting trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for hassle-free computer repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Witness recounts tragic aftermath of propeller incident that killed 3-year-old boy