Two more bodies found - one in Lake Pueblo another in Arkansas River near Florence

PICT 64J1 Outdoors Boating Alcohol Park Ranger - CPW
Published Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Two more bodies were recovered Tuesday by Colorado Parks and Wildlife Park Rangers as the death toll climbs at the state's lakes and rivers.

The first body recovered was a man who went missing on a raft near Florence Monday. Witnesses said the man seemed to be in distress as he floated past Florence River Park around noon. He was floating alone on a private, single-person inflatable raft.

A call for help from the Fremont County Sheriff was received by CPW Rangers around 4:00 p.m. and a search and rescue operation was initiated with the Sheriff, the Fremont County Search & Rescue squad and the Colorado River Outfitters and Licensing team.

The search was suspended due to darkness Monday night and resumed early Tuesday. The raft and remains were found around 2:30 p.m. downstream from the river park. The remains were turned over to the Fremont County Coroner for identification, determination of the cause of death and notification of relatives.

"This incident is under investigation but by all appearances, it looks like another tragic accident," said Tom Waters, AHRA park manager. "We offer our condolences to the family and friends of this victim."

2019-04-24_pict_64j1_sign_lake_pueblo_state_park_-_cpw.jpg

PICT Sign Lake Pueblo State Park - CPW
Entrance sign at Lake Pueblo State Park. Courtesy CPW

"And we again urge everyone entering the Arkansas River to use caution and wear life jackets at all times. Please be sure to check current conditions before going out or go with a professional to learn more if you are new to the sport.   

The second body was discovered Tuesday evening at Lake Pueblo State Park where a call for help about a missing swimmer came in around 4:40 p.m. Park Rangers raced to the spot, about 300 feet offshore, where the man was last seen in a floating inflatable chair.

Witnesses said he thought his daughter was struggling in the water nearby and jumped off to swim to her and disappeared.

Rangers began a search-and-rescue operation. Using sonar and an underwater drone, they located his remains at 6:00 p.m. on the lake bottom in water 25 feet deep. The remains were turned over to the Pueblo County Coroner for identification and cause of death determination.

"This is our fourth death at the park in just over a week and it is devastating,"  said Joe Stadterman, park manager at Lake Pueblo. "Our sympathies go out to this victim's family and friends. And again we urge all our guests to use proper caution when at the lake. Please wear life preservers when you are on or near the water."

If these deaths are confirmed as drownings, they would be the 12th and 13th in 2022. The record for drownings in Colorado is 34 in 2020.

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