PUEBLO, CO – A small ski boat carrying three individuals tragically sank on Saturday evening at Lake Pueblo State Park, leading to the death of one passenger. The two remaining passengers, who were equipped with life jackets, were successfully rescued by Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) park rangers.
The incident unfolded shortly after the boat was launched, with it starting to take on water and rapidly sinking. Onlookers on the shore attempted a rescue operation, but unfortunately, they couldn’t reach the third passenger in time, who was attempting to swim to safety.
The third passenger, who was not wearing a life jacket and had heavy attire, including boots, struggled to stay afloat and ultimately disappeared beneath the surface. CPW rangers reported that the water temperature was around 72 degrees at the time of the incident.
CPW promptly called upon the Pueblo County Sheriff’s volunteer dive team, who located and recovered the body in roughly 7 feet of water. The sunken boat was also retrieved and hauled to shore by the CPW.
The deceased’s body was handed over to the Pueblo County Coroner for identification and to notify relatives. A formal investigation will determine the cause of death. “While we continue to investigate, this appears to be a tragic accident,” said Daryl Seder, senior park ranger at Lake Pueblo. “We offer our condolences to the family and friends of this victim.”
The boat was described as an older, low-profile ski boat. It began sinking shortly after exiting the marina’s “no wake” zone. The combination of the water onboard and choppy lake waves swamped the boat, causing it to sink rapidly.
This incident marks the first death on Lake Pueblo this year and potentially the 24th water-related death in Colorado in 2023, pending confirmation from the coroner. Three people are currently missing and presumed dead in water-related incidents in the state this year. Last year saw a record 42 fatalities due to water-related incidents.
This tragic incident underscores the vital importance of water safety, and the following lessons and tips are a critical reminder for everyone venturing out on the water:
Always Wear Life Jackets: Every person aboard a boat should wear a life jacket, regardless of swimming ability. Life jackets are designed to keep you afloat, particularly in situations where you are unconscious or tired.
Dress Appropriately: Heavy clothing and boots can make it difficult to swim and stay afloat. It is recommended to wear light, quick-drying clothing when boating.
Stay Aware of Boat Condition: Regularly check your boat for any signs of damage or potential issues that could lead to taking on water. Immediate maintenance should be conducted if any issues are found.
Avoid Overloading the Boat: Keep the load within the boat’s safe carrying capacity to prevent instability or sinking.
Monitor Water and Weather Conditions: Choppy water and bad weather can make boating more dangerous. Stay informed about the weather forecast and current water conditions.
By implementing these safety measures, the risk of water-related incidents can be significantly reduced, ensuring a safe and enjoyable boating experience for everyone.