By Michael Abeyta

AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) – After an unsuccessful overnight search, rescue personnel from South Metro Fire Rescue, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, and the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office restarted their efforts Sunday morning to locate a man presumed drowned after he fell from an inner tube being pulled by a boat Saturday evening.

The call reporting the emergency was made at around 6:45 p.m. Saturday, according to Lauren Ono, public information officer for South Metro Fire Rescue. Searchers immediately put boats on the water and used underwater and airborne drones in an attempt to find the 29-year-old man.

The rescue mission changed to a recovery mission when the man was not recovered after 90 minutes of searching.

Crews search Saturday for man who became separated from an inner tube while being towed by a boat in Cherry Creek Reservoir and has not been seen since. (credit: CBS)

During the Sunday’s search, Cherry Creek Reservoir was closed to recreational boating. The state park itself, however, remained open.

Ono said the drowning victim was not wearing a life jacket at the time of the incident.

“The water conditions are very cold today, it’s windy out there,” Ono said Saturday evening, “And with weather like this, things can quickly change.”

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Searchers concentrated their efforts in an area approximately 300 yards east of the marina on the west end of the reservoir Saturday evening. CPW’s Marine Evidence Recovery Team (MERT) searched the reservoir with sonar-equipped underwater drone until 4 a.m. Sunday, according to a CPW press release.

South Metro teams took over the search at sunrise Sunday. CPW’s team rejoined the effort at 10 a.m., CPW stated.

Sunday’s windy weather complicated CPW’s ability to search.

“The Humming Bird, the sonar, which is just the down and side scan unit kind of by the prop of their boat could be effected by the wind and the choppiness, and the image could get distorted as it goes down. The other aspect part of their search is they are kind of going on a grid scanning the bottom, overlapping the routes that they go on, and the wind is shifting the boat both off track and up and down,” said Jason Clay with CPW.

(Towfish sonar Credit: CPW)

He added though that their Towfish sonar was yielding good results and that the bottom of Cherry Creek Reservoir is sandy, which helps searchers easily identify unusually shaped objects.

“During their search they found a row boat. An old row boat at the bottom. They found I think it was another kayak,” said Clay.

 

A member of the Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Office launches a drone in an effort to search for a missing man Saturday at Cherry Creek Reservoir. (credit: CBS)

Around 6:30 p.m. Sunday, the agency announced South Metro Fire Rescue crews and Cherry Creek Park rangers had pulled off the water due to increasing winds. The MERT continued searching until just before nightfall. All teams will continue their efforts Monday morning.

A spokesman for CPW said crews will keep searching for the man to bring his family some closure. Even if it takes days.

“It’s a tragic situation and you feel for the family and our condolences go out to them. Especially on a day like Mother’s Day,” said Clay.

This is the second drowning this year in the state, per CPW. A 24-year-old man died Jan. 26 at Chipeta Lake near Montrose.

The state had a record number of drownings (34) in 2020.

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A kayaker who wasn’t wearing a life jacket drowned in Cherry Creek Reservoir almost exactly a year ago on May 2, 2021.

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Michael Abeyta