CHATFIELD STATE PARK, Colo. (CBS4) – Sunday’s drowning death adds to the record number of drowning deaths that have happened at state parks. There have been three at Chatfield alone.

“It makes me sad that parents have to go through that, no matter if their child is 20 and drowned or 2, it’s still the same anguish,” MaryJane Smith said.

This past Sunday, a paddleboarder died following a strong wind event that swept through the reservoir.

(credit: CBS)

South Metro Fire says 30-year-old Mireille Audet from Denver was pushed by wind across the lake.

(credit: South Metro Fire/Twitter)

The winds put multiple other people in distress. For Smith, it’s a tragic reminder that her kids must wear their life jackets.

“We’ve been here during an active drowning, so they’ve seen it,” she told CBS4.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife records show it’s been a record year for drowning deaths.  Last year there were 24 total, this year there have already been 32.

“You know with COVID we’ve just had a huge onslaught of people getting out outdoors, and finding refuge,” Jason Clay, CPW Public Information Officer said.

While the circumstances vary, the latest drowning involved paddle boarding, something CPW has seen growing in popularity out on its waters.

“Something more accessible you don’t have to spend thousands and thousands of dollars on a boat to get out in it,” Clay explained.

Yet a paddleboard is still considered a vessel, and state law mandates that anyone 12 and under must wear a life jacket. Those who are older must have it on board.

“If you fall off and you have it on there, then there’s no worry, you don’t have to reach for that life jacket,” he said.

Clay also warned that a whistle or something that makes noise is required. It can help rescuers find a person in distress faster.

“I try to tell them it’s very volatile, you never know what the weather is going to do, what a boat could do when it comes by,” Smith added.

And it seems, there can never be enough reminders.

Jacqueline Quynh

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