PUEBLO, Colo. (CBS4) — The Pueblo County Coroner confirmed the identity of two men who died Friday at Lake Pueblo. The bodies of Zion Thomkins of Philadelphia and Michael Carter from Chesapeake, Virginia, were recovered by search crews about three hours after the first call to 911.
Both men were 21 years of age.
Authorities believed at one point that the two men were boating at the lake, but learned the pair were instead swimming. Swimming is not allowed at Lake Pueblo.
“We offer our condolences to the families and friends of these men,” Lake Pueblo State Park Manager Monique Mullis said. “We hate seeing lives lost so tragically. This is another sad example of why swimming is not permitted anywhere in Lake Pueblo. Swimming is only permitted in Rock Canyon Swim Beach below the dam. This incident also points to the importance of wearing life jackets when you are in the water.”
Rangers with the Colorado Parks and Wildlife responded within minutes to the scene, according to a press release from CPW.
“They were greeted by a second group of frantic park guests on the shore who indicated another man had also gone missing while swimming not far from the first victim,” CPW stated in the release.
BREAKING NEWS: At 4:15 p.m. @COParksWildlife rangers at @LakePuebloSP using sonar located what appeared to be a body in water off Sailboard Road beach. Divers with @PuebloCountySO recovered and turned over to Pueblo County Coroner for determining cause of death and identity. 1/2
— CPW SE Region (@CPW_SE) June 12, 2020
A CPW boat crew discovered the first body in six feet of water at 4:15 p.m. A CPW underwater drone used for evidence recovery located the second body as the first was being taken to shore.
The coroner will issue a determination of cause of death – presumably drowning – at a later date.
Lake Pueblo was at capacity before noon Saturday, according to a tweet by lake rangers.
NEWS ALERT: @LakePuebloSP is at capacity. No vehicles will be allowed to enter until other vehicles leave. Long lines are at every entrance. We anticipate the park to be at capacity until late afternoon. (1/2)
— CPW SE Region (@CPW_SE) June 13, 2020
The campgrounds at the lake were opened May 18th, though by reservation only and under the social distancing guidelines of the state’s Safer At Home public health order. Playgrounds remain closed.
Wading is permitted at the lake.