CHATFIELD STATE PARK, Colo. (CBS4) – The search for a missing person at the swim beach at Chatfield State Park continued on Sunday. South Metro Fire officials tell CBS4 the victim is an 18-year-old man.
Authorities say two people were in the water on Friday and had trouble swimming in an area known as the Catfish Flats. One of them was rescued, while the other never resurfaced.
On Sunday, the Colorado Parks and Wildlife closed Chatfield Reservoir’s shoreline and parking lot to the public. The South Metro Dive Team along with the CPW Marine Evidence Recovery Team resumed their recovery mission.
“Our deepest condolences go out to the family of the victim,” CPW stated on social media.
CPW leader of the Marine Evidence Recovery Team, Jim Hawkins, describes the challenges of this particular search.
“We’re going from 1 foot, to 1.5 half feet, to 4 feet to 5 feet and then it drops off to 18 feet and then it comes up rapidly to one and a half feet,” he said. “We’re also running into 5-, 6-foot-tall milfoil.”
Milfoils are submerged aquatic plants. Hawkins says the plants get tangled in their underwater search equipment, hampering their efforts. He adds silt from an underwater ravine is also impeding the efficacy of their equipment.
Jim Hawkins, CPW’s leader of the Marine Evidence Recovery Team, talks about the challenges of this underwater search being conducted at Chatfield State Park. pic.twitter.com/Hohk4UWd2F
— CPW NE Region (@CPW_NE) August 2, 2020
“I would say visibility is pretty poor. I would say between 2 to 3 feet at max, but what we’re seeing is especially with divers if they’re using their fins or if we have propellers in the area, it’s kicking up that silt and making it a little hard,” said Hawkins.
The search on Sunday was called off at around 4 p.m., South Metro firefighters announced. They have not found the victim.
Update – The SMFR Dive Team is stopping search and recovery efforts for the day. Crews were able to search multiple locations on the reservoir today, but were unsuccessful in locating the missing person. Divers will be back out tomorrow morning.
— South Metro Fire Rescue (@SouthMetroPIO) August 2, 2020
Crews will resume the search on Monday. There have been 23 fatalities on Colorado lakes and rivers this year; there were 24 in 2019, the most ever recorded.