Fishing Ice Fishing

Utah Fisherman Dies After Falling Through the Ice with His Dog

Witnesses heard a man yell as he fell through the ice, and contacted the authorities when they couldn't locate him
Natalie Krebs Avatar
An ice fisherman drowned in Steinaker Reservoir on Feb. 19.

Steinaker Reservoir, a popular ice fishing spot in northeast Utah, in January. Steinaker State Park / Facebook

A fisherman fell through the ice at Steinaker Reservoir in northeast Utah this morning and did not survive. Witnesses reported hearing a man yell and seeing his dog jump into the water, but were unable to locate the fisherman when they reached the spot where he broke through.

Emergency crews were dispatched to the reservoir at 9:14 a.m. Saturday, according to a statement from the Uintah County Sheriff’s Office. Officials with the Uintah County Search and Rescue saved the missing man’s dog while searching near the west inlet of the reservoir. At 10:50 a.m. SAR personnel located the man’s body under 10 feet of water, about 5 to 6 feet from where he fell through the ice. The Sheriff’s Office identified the fisherman as 52-year-old Travis Hanchett of Vernal, Utah.

“I love you Dad…I cannot believe this happened and my heart is broken and this feels like an awful dream. You’re my best friend and my hero,” his son, Dallin Hanchett, wrote in a Facebook post Saturday. “I love you and miss you more than you’ll ever know.”

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to family and friends of Travis. This was a very unfortunate accident,” reads the statement from the Sheriff’s Office. “With warming temperatures, we urge everyone to use extreme caution on frozen lakes and waterways as ice levels in some areas are beginning to thin, especially near reservoir inlets.”

The only snapshot on Hanchett’s Instagram feed, uploaded in July 2020.

Conditions on Steinaker Reservoir today called for a high of 48°F with a reported 9 inches of ice, according to the Utah State Parks office. Vernal weather reports called for mild, sunny conditions and historical weather data shows a high of 30°F recorded at 9 a.m. New ice measuring 9 inches thick or more is typically strong enough to hold a sedan or small truck; older, cloudier ice and ice covering moving water is less safe. You can read more information on ice fishing safety here.