DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. (KDVR) – Search crews have discovered the body of a missing swimmer after searching in Chatfield Reservoir for nearly a week.
Eighteen-year-old Aric Whitacre was swimming at the reservoir with his friend when he disappeared. Searchers believe he may have gone over a drop off where the water goes from waist-deep to 18 feet.
“What was making the area so difficult to search is we go from one-foot, one-and-a-half feet of water, to four to five feet and then it drops off to 18 feet and then it comes up rapidly to one-and-a-half feet,” said Jim Hawkins, CPW’s team leader of the Marine Evidence Recovery Team. “So it is very difficult for us to run our sonar and we are also running into five to six foot tall milfoil… Visibility was pretty poor, between two to three feet.”
Colorado Parks and Wildlife said Whitacre’s body was found just after 8 a.m. about 50 yards from the shoreline.
“We offer our deepest condolences to the family,” said Kris Wahlers, Chatfield State Park Manager. “We are thankful to all the rescue crews who aided in this extensive search and we hope that the recovery of the body will bring a little comfort to the family as they mourn the loss of their loved one.”
The body has been turned over to the Jefferson County Coroner’s Office for a formal identification and cause of death determination.
This is the 23rd drowning in Colorado so far this year. The highest number of drownings ever recorded in the state was last year when there were 24.
Whitacre’s family said it was frustrated with the number of people coming to Chatfield and entering the search area before Aric was found — something that was compounded by social media campaigns promoting the anniversary of Colorado’s founding.
“This was the perfect storm to make flaws in Colorado’s recreational social media campaigns apparent to the organizations that are involved with them, as well as providing different experience for many of Colorado’s major emergency management teams, rescue, and dive crews. The public was largely unaware that on Saturday, 8.1.2020, Aric was still in the lake, and that search and recovery operations would begin again that morning. I received information from my husband, who went to the shoreline to be there until he was recovered, that people were coming into the search area,” the family said in a statement issued Friday.
The family thanked the numerous local agencies that helped in the search.
Plans for a memorial are underway.
A GoFundMe account has been established for the Whitacre family.