A Bitter Springs, Arizona, man was found dead in Lake Powell July 3, 1993, marking the second drowning at the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area this year.
Joe Spencer, 33, drowned while attempting to retrieve a small boat tied to a houseboat that he was working on at the Wahweap Marina. The small boat had come loose due to high winds, and Spencer dove in to retrieve the craft, National Park Service officials say.
Spencer, shirtless but still clad in pants and shoes, experienced problems nearly 30 yards out and went under water. NPS Divers and his employer, ARA Leisure Services Inc., recovered his body nearly four hours later. Spencer had worked for the concessionaire for nine years.
HOW FAR BACK DO LAKE POWELL DEATHS GO?
Office convinced carbon monoxide is old problem
ARIZONA REPUBLIC - December 2000
With the jaundiced eye of a good cop, Coconino County Sheriff's Lt. Ron Anderson has watched the body count climb at Lake Powell.
Citing National Park Service statistics, Anderson said nearly half of the 128 deaths over the past decade at the giant northern Arizona lake have scant or no explanation.
Anderson believes that the Bermuda Triangle has nothing on Lake Powell.
He shakes his head at the statistics released last week by state and federal health officials: 111 poisonings from carbon monoxide released from boats, two-thirds of them houseboats, resulting in nine deaths and 102 injuries.
"I bet there's been 10 times that number of injuries from carbon monoxide," said Anderson, who believes that the colorless, odorless and potentially deadly gas released from boat engines and electric generators has played a greater role in the mysterious deaths at the lake than investigators have so far discovered.
FOR EXAMPLE, ANDERSON CITES THE CASE OF
PAGE MECHANIC JOE SPENCER,
WHO WAS REQUIRED TO DIVE INTO LAKE POWELL WHILE REPAIRING A HOUSEBOAT MOTOR IN 1993.
Though Spencer was an avid swimmer in peak condition, he came up one time for air, then never resurfaced.
Spencer isn't listed among the carbon monoxide casualties. Neither are the 57 bodies that, since the lake was created by Glen Canyon Dam in 1963, slipped beneath the surface and have never been found.
"Seven years ago, the doctors at the emergency room here started making the connection between carbon monoxide poisoning and people on houseboats," Anderson said. "But before then, there were an awful lot of death certificates that listed 'unknown' or 'accidental' for deaths all over this lake."
Theresa (Wright '79) (Ted '79) Candelaria, daughter of Dyanna Wright-Hetrick (1940-2014), wrote to Tsosie June '79 (PHS X-C Runner) who was also a friend of Joe Spencer ('78 or '79, maybe):
"Joe Spencer drowned in Lake Powell. He died while working on houseboats out on the buoy area. There was a real windy storm. He jumped in the water to get a boat that had broken loose.
He was such a quiet person. I liked to watch him draw pictures of me hurdling while we drove to the meet. The world lost a very special man that day."
- Created by: Donna Bloxton "Jesus Girl"
- Added: 15 Feb 2015
- Find a Grave Memorial 142674195
- Sponsored by Richard S. Wilson
Find a Grave, database and images (www.findagrave.com/memorial/142674195/joe-spencer : accessed ), memorial page for Joe Spencer (7 Nov 1959–3 Jul 1993), Find a Grave Memorial ID 142674195, citing Page Cemetery, Page, Coconino County, Arizona, USA ; Maintained by Donna Bloxton "Jesus Girl" (contributor 47675883) .