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Colorado sees 'alarming' number of early-season deaths on rivers, lakes

Fifteen people have died on Colorado's waters so far in 2024, outpacing 2023, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
cherry creek reservoir
Posted at 3:07 PM, Jun 06, 2024

DENVER — Colorado so far has seen an "alarming" number of early-season deaths on rivers and lakes, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

Last July 4th at Cherry Creek Reservoir, Brianna Cruz was just trying to enjoy a day on the water. She was riding a jet ski when she was hit by another jet ski and thrown into the water.

“I opened my eyes, and I was in the water. And I was like, ‘Oh my God my leg!’ And then I realized that my leg was hanging on by one tendon,” said Cruz.

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Cruz has begun sharing her story as a way to advocate for water safety. Colorado Parks and Wildlife is also pushing its water safety message due to an alarming number of early-season water deaths.

Fifteen people have died on Colorado’s rivers and lakes so far in 2024, according to CPW spokesperson Kara Van Hoose. Just this weekend, a man died after a raft capsized on the Colorado River in Grand County on Saturday, while another man died after he drowned at Chatfield Reservoir on Sunday.

There were 32 water-related deaths in 2023 compared to a record 42 water-related deaths in 2022.

“Thank God I had a life vest on because if I didn’t have that on, I wouldn’t be here today,” said Cruz.

Cruz was able to climb back onto her jet ski and drive herself back to shore before she was rushed to the hospital. After 12 days in the ICU and four surgeries, doctors were able to save her leg.

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“I know how to doggy paddle but I'm not an Olympic swimmer or anything,” said Cruz.

It’s a message Colorado Parks and Wildlife hopes you hear, too.

“Life jackets save lives. And it's not enough just to have it with you on your kayak or paddleboard. You actually have to wear it for it to work,” said Van Hoose.




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