JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – A young woman has died in Jefferson County after being pulled from Clear Creek near Golden. She was 23 years old.
The woman was swimming with a group of friends in the creek. One man was also rescued. When firefighters pulled her from the water, they initially thought she had drowned but found a faint pulse. She was taken immediately to a hospital, but passed away overnight.
We’re at the scene of a drowning in Clear Creek in Golden. Victim is an adult. Right lane of Highway 93 North closed at Highway 6/58th. PIO is on scene. Media staging at Lyons Park. pic.twitter.com/mETcH88GJw
— Jeffco Sheriff (@jeffcosheriffco) June 17, 2020
Her identity has not been released.
She was in the water for over a mile without a flotation device, according to a Tuesday night Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office update.
“This is an unfortunate incident that serves as a reminder that when you are recreating, do it in the creek, and just know dangerous situations exist,” said Deputy John Spaw with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.
According to Spaw and Jeff Steinhoff, an operations captain for Golden Fire, rescue crews have been busy recently. The two attribute the increase to two things – strong currents and increased visitation to bodies of water.
“We’re finding that we’re having to rescue people quite a bit, not only up in the city, but up in the canyon,” said Steinhoff.
Strong currents are nothing new for this time of year, due to the snow melt happening in the high country. According to the two men, Clear Creek’s current was running about 860 cubic feet per second Wednesday morning.
“It takes a matter of seconds for you to be swept away from this water if you’re not careful,” said Spaw. “I think there are a lot of people that do act confident when they get around water, especially when you know you’re a strong swimmer, but in currents like this in the Clear Creek, you could be an Olympic swimmer and still drown here.”
One thing attributing to more rescues could be the loosening of coronavirus restrictions, Spaw and Steinhoff said. The bigger crowds, combined with strong currents, create more opportunities for dangerous situations.
“They’re excited to finally see parks, water, and nature, but they still have to be mindful of the safety aspects of what you need to know when you’re outdoors,” said Spaw.
On Clear Creek in JeffCo, there are currently temporary restrictions on tubing and swimming.
Still, just last night, crews responded to a woman who later died after being swept away on Clear Creek. Recently there was another water rescue on the Poudre River, as well as deaths on Lake Pueblo and Chatfield Reservoir.
When it comes to rescues on creeks and rivers, Spaw and Steinhoff said it’s not just the current a person has to worry about.
“It’s all the hazards underneath the water,” said Steinhoff. “It’s the rocks and the boulders that you can bounce off of, and that’s really what can injure you and make you unable to swim.”
On Clear Creek, kayaks, rafts, and canoes are still allowed, and on Wednesday, many people could be seen recreating. Still, rescuers have some advice for anyone who wants to go out on the water.
“I recommend shoes, thermos-protection, a life vest, and a helmet to get into the water,” said Steinhoff.