ARAPAHOE COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – Colorado Parks and Wildlife and South Metro firefighters recovered the body a missing person at Cherry Creek State Park Sunday evening. First responders received a call about a kayaker who went under the water, but never resurfaced.
The kayaker and dog were last seen at around 11:50 a.m. South Metro firefighters declared the mission a recovery and not a rescue at around 1:45 p.m.
Witnesses told authorities a man was in the water, not wearing a life jacket, near an inflatable kayak. They say the man appeared to be in trouble, and rangers reported gusty winds and choppy water at the time. They believe those were factors in the kayak capsizing.
“We went from basically a nice, calm morning to we had wind gusts up to 20 mph. reports are saying,” said Kim Spuhler, a public information officer for South Metro Fire Rescue. “That’s why the kayak might have tipped over.”
CPW said the temperature of the water was in the low 50s at the time, and the water on the east side of the park ranged between 9 feet and 16 feet in depth.
CPW identified the kayaker as a 26-year-old man from Aurora. His body was retrieved just before 5 p.m. There were initial reports of the man having a dog with him, but responders could not confirm the presence, South Metro Fire Rescue said on Twitter.
A spokesperson for the department tells CBS4 a life vest was found on the recovered kayak.
“It was devastating for a lot of the people who were there and absolutely shocking because it had been such a lovely day and such a happy attitude around the lake,” said Dr. Vaughn Browne, who was at the park at the time.
— CPW NE Region (@CPW_NE) May 2, 2021
Officials with CPW said this was the first drowning at a state park this year.