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Teen girls survive in frigid Utah waters for 3 hours by singing church songs and praying

Posted at 8:18 AM, Jun 04, 2015
and last updated 2015-06-04 08:46:49-04

BEAR LAKE, Utah -- Saying prayers and singing primary songs were a couple things two teens did before being rescued from a fatal boating accident at Bear Lake on Monday. Tiffany Stoker, 14 and Tylinn Tilley, 13, were two girls on the boat who survived and were rescued from the chilling waters with body temperatures of 68 degrees after trying to swim for three hours in 53 degree water.

Tiffany Stoker, 14 and Tylinn Tilley, 13, were two girls on the boat who survived and were rescued from the chilling waters.

Tiffany Stoker, 14 and Tylinn Tilley, 13, were two girls on the boat who survived and were rescued from the chilling waters.

A fast-moving storm capsized the boat and took the life of Dr. Lance Capener, his daughters Kelsey Capener 14, and Kylie Capener, 7. Family friend, Siera Hadley, 13, also died. Kathryn Capener, mother to Kelsey and Kylie and wife of Lance, survived.

boating victims

Tilley and Stoker's fathers wrote publicly on their Facebook pages about what their daughters were experiencing when 70 mph winds created 6-foot waves that tossed the boat around before it capsized.

"When the boat first flipped they said they felt as if someone lifted them out of the boat and placed them in the water a safe distance from the boat," said Jeff Stoker, father of Tiffany Stoker.

Tilley said as his daughter and her friend tried to swim to the shore, they saw the sun setting and believed they were "staring death in the face."

Everyone tried to stay close to the boat, but the waves continued to hit and hurt them. Two girls decided to stay with the boat, while Tiffany and Tylinn went for help and swam for three hours. They were 3 ½ miles from shore.

The two teens supported each other and if one started to lose motivation, the other would tease or encourage. When their muscles would cramp up, they would try to massage each others arms or legs.

"They sang primary songs. They prayed," Stoker wrote. "They said the waves and wind were so loud they literally yelled their prayers so the other could hear their words."

As the sun set the two began to both lose hope and were so tired. They were about to give up, Stoked said. In that very moment they heard a boat and the girls began screaming. It was the Search and Rescue boat. The girls were found and taken to a local hospital where their vitals were stabilized.

"I am so grateful for the search and rescue efforts and all those that cared for my sweet daughter and her friend," Stoker wrote. "I'm grateful they were together. We are also so full of grief for our friends' losses."

Both fathers expressed gratitude for the outpouring of love and support they have received, but also expressed the sorrow they felt for their friends who lost their lives.

"What can you possibly say to express the sorrow you feel, while breathing a sigh of relief for yourself? It is not fair," wrote Lance Tilley, father of 13-year-old survivor Tylinn Tilley.

Even though the girls are physically OK and recovering, Tilley said they are emotionally devastated at the loss of their friends.

"I am struggling too!!" Tilley wrote. "I am so relieved and happy for my daughter but feeling guilty and gut wrenching pain for the loss and suffering of Kathy, Tandi and Gary."

Tilley said he doesn't know why the accident had to happen and why some lived and others didn't, but prayers were answered in many different ways.

"If you doubt the goodness in the world, just look at the love and support from family, friends, neighbors, and yes even complete strangers with different faiths. Thank you, thank you, thank you for the love and kindness."