AURORA, Colo. – Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s Marine Evidence Recovery Team (MERT) was called out to Cherry Creek State Park Saturday evening for a recovery search of a 29-year-old male victim missing in the reservoir.
Due to the ongoing search, the reservoir will be closed to boating on Sunday. The rest of the park will remain open Sunday.
The man was on a tube being pulled behind a boat when he became separated from the tube and went missing in the water at approximately 6:45 p.m. The victim was not wearing a life jacket.
First responders from South Metro Fire Rescue and Park Rangers at Cherry Creek State Park began an immediate search using sonar of the area, which was approximately 300 yards east of the marina on the west end of the reservoir.
Unable to locate the victim in the first 90 minutes of the search, the rescue effort turned to a recovery mission and was turned over to CPW’s MERT program. Five members of the MERT team arrived on scene to begin their search in two vessels at 8:46 p.m.
The MERT Team utilizes underwater ROV’s (remote-operated vehicles), which uses sonar, lights, video cameras and a manipulator in searches. They searched the reservoir until 4 a.m. Sunday.
South Metro Fire resumed searching the water at sunrise Sunday and the CPW resources will resume searching at 10 a.m.
The drowning comes nearly one year to the day of another one in the reservoir at Cherry Creek State Park. On May 2, 2021 a kayaker drowned near the East Shades parking area that is by the east boat ramp after being flipped over in the water. That drowning was classified as a survivable accident if a personal floatation device had been worn.
This is the second drowning in Colorado this year. The first was a 24-year-old male on Jan. 26 at Chipeta Lake south of Montrose. In 2021 there were 22 total drownings in Colorado, which was down from the 34 drownings in 2020. That 2020 figure is the highest number of drownings on record in the state.