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Grass Valley Reservoir Drowning at Harvey Gap State Park

Tragic Drowning Incident at Harvey Gap State Park Highlights Water Safety Concerns

SILT, COLORADO – In a tragic incident at Harvey Gap State Park, an adult paddleboarder lost their life after becoming separated from their board during high winds and waves on Saturday afternoon. This incident underscores the critical importance of water safety measures, especially the use of life jackets.

The incident occurred at Grass Valley Reservoir, where four paddleboarders were caught in sudden high winds. None of the individuals were wearing life jackets. Witnesses reported that one adult, who was not tethered to their paddleboard, failed to resurface in the rough conditions.

The call for help was received at 3:18 p.m., prompting an immediate response from Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) officers and Garfield County Sheriff’s deputies. Upon confirming the missing person’s status, CPW deployed two boats equipped with sonar devices to scan the water.

As the search continued into the evening, CPW’s Marine Evidence Recovery Team (MERT) from Littleton took over. Utilizing their boat and a submersible remote-operated vehicle (ROV) equipped with sonar, lights, and a video camera, the team was able to locate the body at 10 p.m. The recovery was completed using the submersible drone, and the body was subsequently turned over to the Garfield County Coroner for identification and to determine the exact cause of death.

“This is a heartbreaking tragedy and we send our deepest sympathies to the families and friends of this victim,” stated Harvey Gap State Park Manager Brian Palcer. “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.”

This incident marks the sixth water recreation-related fatality in Colorado for 2024 if confirmed as a drowning. Colorado Parks and Wildlife extends its gratitude to the Garfield County Sheriff’s Department for their assistance in this operation.

CPW emphasizes the mandatory requirement for life jackets on all watercraft in Colorado, including paddleboards and other hand-powered vessels. This incident serves as a poignant reminder of the necessity of wearing life jackets while engaging in water activities.

Water Safety Tips

  1. Always Wear a Life Jacket: Ensure that everyone wears a properly fitted life jacket when on or near the water.
  2. Check Weather Conditions: Be aware of weather forecasts and conditions, as sudden changes can pose significant risks.
  3. Stay Tethered: Use a leash to keep yourself attached to your paddleboard or watercraft.
  4. Do Not Paddle Alone: Always paddle in groups or with a buddy to ensure help is available if needed.
  5. Learn to Swim: Make sure you and your companions have strong swimming skills and know how to handle water emergencies.

Support Search and Rescue Teams

Supporting Search and Rescue (SAR) teams is crucial for ensuring swift responses to emergencies. One way to contribute is by purchasing a Colorado Outdoor Recreation Search and Rescue (COSAR) card. The funds from these cards help equip and train SAR teams across the state.

Purchase a COSAR Card Here

Alex Derr, Founder of The Next Summit

Alex Derr is an Eagle Scout, climber, and environmental policy expert located in Denver, Colorado. He created The Next Summit to help others stay safe exploring the mountains and advocate to preserve the peaks for the future. Follow him on Linkedin or Twitter or click here to contact him.

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