Park rangers issue safety warning after paddleboarder drowns at Big Soda Lake

Local News

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. (KDVR) — Colorado Parks and Wildlife said calls for rescues are going up and with Memorial Day on the way, rangers are reminding water lovers to be aware and know before you go. 

The state has already seen four drownings this year. Despite the news about the most recent deadly drowning at Big Soda Lake inside Bear Creek Lake Park in Jefferson County, dozens of paddleboarders came out to get back on the water Sunday. 

“Paddleboarding, you’re totally at the mercy of the wind,” Drew Sprafke, a park ranger for the City of Lakewood said. 

As more and more people take up the sport of paddleboarding, CPW said so does the number of calls for help.

“The calls are increasing,” CPW’s Jason Clay said. “Drownings are a reflection of the increase in popularity.” 

The state law requires everyone to have a life jacket on board any water vessel, including paddleboards. However, Sprafke said if you’re not wearing it and something goes wrong it’s too late. 

“Once the storm hits, if you fall overboard, if you’d fall and hit your head, there is nothing you can do to put that life jacket on. So think about it ahead of time,” Sprafke said. 

Paddleboarders still prepared, pumped and paddled their way onto the water this weekend. Some say the recent drowning death serves as a good reminder to be safe. 

“You can’t let other things scare you out of doing things you like to do, just use it as lessons,” paddleboarder Julia Vasquez said. “A lot of people are excited about [water sports season]. I think everyone needs to remember water can be dangerous.” 

“Honestly, if it’s calm a lot of the time I don’t [wear a life vest]; if it’s windy I put it on,” paddleboarder Jennifer Oliver said. 

“The big message is that a life jacket can save your life,” Clay said. 

In 2020, Colorado saw a record number of drownings. Colorado park rangers hope this year is not the same.

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