Dillon resident Paul Kresge identified as man who drowned in Dillon Reservoir

Paul Kresge, left, is pictured during the Peak 1 Regatta on Saturday afternoon shortly before the accident. A memorial ride benefitting Team Summit athletes has been organized in Kresge's honor. This year's second annual ride will take place on Sunday, July 10.
Elaine Collins/Courtesy photo

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct Paul Kresge’s age.

DILLON — The man who died after falling into Dillon Reservoir has been identified as 66-year-old Paul Kresge of Dillon, according to the Summit County Coroner’s Office.

On Saturday afternoon, Kresge fell into the water after gusts of wind and large waves caused his sailboat to broach. The manner of death was accidental, and the cause was ruled drowning, according to Coroner Regan Wood.

At about 2:30 p.m. Saturday, a strong storm cell blew in from the southwest, producing winds upwards of 40 mph along with 4-foot waves, according to a release from the Summit County Sheriff’s Office.

Kresge, who was taking part in the Dillon Yacht Club’s Peak 1 Regatta earlier in the day, was traveling downwind toward the Dillon Marina. He was the captain of the boat and was in the back steering. There was another person on the boat handling the sails.

Kresge tried to perform a jibe to change course but lost control when the boat broached, and he fell into the water. He was not wearing a life vest at the time of the accident, though there was one on board, in accordance with state law. Kresge was sailing a 22-foot Star Class 2 racing sailboat, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

The storm caused “multiple boats to capsize,” according to the Sheriff’s Office, but Kresge’s craft remained upright. The other crew member was able to drop the sails and get the boat into the Snake River Inlet, where he was rescued and towed to the Dillon Marina.

According to individuals at the marina, the weather in the area quickly intensified before settling down. Elaine Collins, who was out on a boat photographing the regatta, said she didn’t see the incident because she was too far east in the Snake River arm but that the weather change was dramatic.

“It went from a cloudy day, to craziness,” Collins said. “And 15 minutes later, there were blue skies.”

A sailboat is caught in a fast-moving storm cell that caused 40 mph wind gusts and 4-foot waves Saturday afternoon on Dillon Reservoir.
Courtesy Elaine Collins

After Kresge fell into the water, the boat collided with a race committee boat that was moored to a buoy. The accident took place just west of the Snake River arm of the reservoir, and other boats in the area immediately began searching for Kresge.

Teams with the Sheriff’s Office, Summit County Rescue Group, Summit County Water Rescue, Dillon Police Department, Dillon and Frisco marinas, Dillon Yacht Club, Flight For Life, Summit Water Taxi and local fishing guides all took part in the search.

Rescue workers called off the search late Saturday and resumed early Sunday. Kresge’s body was successfully located about 180 feet under the surface at around 3:30 p.m. Sunday using a VideoRay underwater remote operating vehicle.

Kresge was a member of the Dillon Yacht Club and served as the group’s commodore from 2010-2011, according to the club’s website.  

Kerstin Anderson, Dillon’s marketing and events director, said officials are planning to dedicate Thursday’s race in the town’s weekly series to Kresge.

“Rather than doing a competitive race this week, we’re going to be paying respect to the memory of our fallen friend,” Anderson said. “We just want to bring everyone out on the water in his memory and as a tribute to Paul.”

Kresge is the first individual to drown in the reservoir since Adam Brown, a 26-year-old Frisco resident who fell overboard from a pontoon boat in August 2008, according to Wood. The last death at the reservoir took place in September 2017, when 27-year-old Michael Mitchell drove off Swan Mountain Road and into the water.

Summit County Rescue Group volunteers meet with a Summit County Sheriff’s Office deputy Saturday afternoon to coordinate the search for Paul Kresge, who fell off his sailboat during a fast-moving storm.
Courtesy Elaine Collins

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