JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. (KDVR) — UPDATE, May 23: Search crews have recovered the body of a 25-year-old paddleboarder who went missing Saturday afternoon at Big Soda Lake.
CPW said it used a towfish sonar unit to find the body and recovered it by a remotely operated vehicle.
The name of the paddleboarder has not been released.
ORIGINAL: A paddleboarder went missing underwater Saturday afternoon in Bear Creek Lake Park.
The West Metro Fire dive team responded around 3 p.m. to Big Soda Lake, where the missing person’s friends alerted rescuers.
“We understand there was a group paddleboarding and there was a phone dropped in the water and someone went in and when they gathered one of the people failed to surface,” Sean Ohara, captain at West Metro Fire Rescue said.
Responders said around 5:20 p.m. that the rescue had turned to a recovery operation.
“After 90 minutes there is very low chance of survival of being submerged for the victim,” Doug Hutchinson, District Chief West Metro Fire Rescue said.
The paddleboarder is described as a 25-year-old male.
Officials said the victim’s friends called for help after he went in the water. They remained on scene to work with police and search and rescue crews.
It is unknown if he was wearing a life vest and if weather played a factor in the incident.
Divers are conducting an underwater and sonar search and are using a drone in the air, a West Metro spokesperson said.
South Metro Fire is also assisting in the response.
This is the fourth documented drowning so far this year. In 2020, Colorado had a record-breaking number of 34 drownings.
That figure includes drownings from the shore, flat water and swift water (18 of those drownings classified as a United States Coast Guard boat accident).
“Know how to swim, take swim lessons and make sure your kids know how to swim. Wear a certified live vest,” Ohara said.
Rescue crews said they didn’t know if drugs or alcohol were a factor in this drowning. They said anyone using boats or out on the water should avoid being intoxicated while doing so.
“Something so simple as wearing a U.S. Coast Guard approved, proper fitting, and serviceable life jacket while enjoying the day on your vessel may save your life,” Jim Hawkins, Boating Safety and Enforcement Coordinator for Colorado Parks and Wildlife said. “Just wear it!”
The rescue was turned over to CPW. They were able to bring in a sonar boat with underwater drones to continue the search once all divers were exhausted.
“Colorado’s Marine Evidence Recovery team is a statewide response team operated by Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s boating safety unit. It has 11 team members spread out across the state and its primary mission is to investigate, recover and collect any boat accident evidence in flat water environments such as ponds and lakes,” Jason Clay with CPW stated.
The CPW boat helps typically across the state where a drowning or a major boat accident has occurred.
“Its vessels are fully furnished with two hummingbirds, which are its side-scan, down-scan sonar imaging, an ROV that is an underwater vehicle they can send down with lights, a camera, sonar and a grappler to locate and recover evidence or a victim. It is also equipped with a toe-fish, a towable sonar that can scan the bottom of lakes hundreds of feet deep,” Clay stated.
CPW will continue to look for the victim’s body into the night and tomorrow until the body is recovered.