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Four drownings at Lake Pueblo are a troubling trend

Posted at 5:51 PM, Jun 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-08 21:08:57-04

PUEBLO — “It’s definitely a little spooky getting in the water knowing it’s just happened.” Giovanna Selle just arrived at Pueblo Reservoir to go kayaking. She is well aware there was a likely drowning here just a day ago.

Four people have drowned in three different recent incidents at the reservoir. The tragedies took place in a ten-day span starting with Memorial Day weekend.

The issue is more than Pueblo Reservoir. It is early in the season, and there have already been close to a dozen drownings at Colorado lakes and rivers.

Is there a need for more or better safety rules and regulations? Or, is it an issue of disregard for current safety measures?

“Our rangers and park staff are meeting and debriefing after all of these incidents and talking about what could’ve gone better, as well as processing the trauma and making sure everyone’s okay,” said Travis Duncan with Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

There are suggestions for adding more rangers. Park leaders would be happy to add more staff. The issue is funding that would have to be approved through the state budget process.

Kids are the only ones currently required to wear lifejackets while on the water. Others just need to have one available. Raising the age, or requiring lifejackets for everyone could be considered. It would require action by lawmakers at the state legislature.

A critical look at these recent drownings shows personal responsibility is a factor.

“We’ve had folks who haven’t had their lifejacket on, have been in areas where they weren’t supposed to be swimming or were out in high winds with a lot of folks on a boat designed for less people,” said Duncan.

No one wants this trend to end more than the staff at the reservoir. They have been working long hours on the search and recovery missions that end in very sad circumstances.

All of the recent victims are from the Pueblo area where rangers also live. In a couple of the cases, the rangers have known the victims or their families, which makes it personal.

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