PICT Pueblo Reservoir Dam - CPW

Two dead, child hospitalized after kayaks swamp at Lake Pueblo

Pueblo Reservoir Dam. Courtesy CPW

Two adults died and a child was hospitalized after three kayaks capsized in high winds and waves Sunday afternoon at Lake Pueblo State Park.

Witnesses said a kayak carrying an adult and child capsized in heavy waves, driven by winds that gusted from 35-45 mph. Two more kayaks, each carrying a single adult, tried to go help and both capsized. At that point all four people were in the water near the Sailboard beach area on the north shore of the lake.

The call for help came in at 3:23 p.m. Colorado Parks and Wildlife rangers responded. Ranger Kristopher Gard arrived in his truck while Rangers Joe Portteus and Josh Kloshime arrived by boat to find the four victims in the water, including a toddler in obvious distress. Gard plunged in, grabbed the child and began performing CPR until emergency medical crews arrived. The child was flown by UCHealth’s LifeLine helicopter to a hospital in Colorado Springs for treatment.

One adult victim was recovered almost immediately by Portteus and Kloshime. Park Manager Joe Stadterman launched an underwater drone, known as a Remote Operated Vehicle, from shore to search for the other missing adult as the water was too rough for the search-and-rescue boat to operate its SONAR equipment 

Within an hour, Stadterman was able to locate the remains in water about 20 feet deep.

Both bodies were turned over to the Pueblo County Coroner to determine the exact cause of death, to identify the remains and notify the victim’s relatives.

“This is another heartbreaking tragedy and we send our deepest sympathies to the families and friends of these victims,” Stadterman said. “We continue to urge everyone to pay close attention to weather conditions and to wear life jackets when they are on or near the water so we can avoid future tragedies like today.”

These were the seventh and eighth water-related deaths this year at Lake Pueblo. Before Sunday there had been five drownings and one death due to a boating accident at Lake Pueblo. 

Colorado has recorded 38 water-related fatalities in 2022. If Sunday's deaths are confirmed to be drownings, they would make 36 recreation-related drownings. In 2020, Colorado had 34 total water-related deaths. There were 22 in 2021.