A multi-day search on North Lake, west of Trinidad, Colorado was organized after a kayaker was reported missing on Monday, April 6th. Witnesses said that they had seen the kayaker capsize, but that he wasn’t spotted again. The missing kayaker was found days later with help of an underwater drone.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife started searching for the missing kayaker soon after the 11 a.m. report. Their efforts continued through Wednesday and multiple local departments were involved in the efforts.
Underwater drone aids in locating the body of missing kayaker
The body of the missing kayaker was eventually found with the help of an underwater drone with sonar, lights, and a video camera, along with a dive team. The body was given to the coroner at 3 p.m. on Wednesday.
Sonar proved less effective in locating the missing kayaker due to the rocky nature of the lakebed. However, a photo captured by the underwater drone ultimately led to the recovery of the body. The Las Animas County Coroner’s Office will perform the official identification and determination of the cause of death.
“These searches are difficult even with the best equipment and best-trained divers,” said Grant Brown of CPW Marine Evidence Recovery Team, according to Out There Colorado. “This is a good reminder to people recreating in our mountain lakes that the water is very cold and hypothermia can set in very quickly. Please be careful and wear personal flotation devices whenever you go on the water.”
When a person is suddenly immersed in the cold water of a lake, that person can cramp up, go into shock and have difficulty breathing, which can result in drowning. Even seasoned swimmers and athletes can become incapacitated by cold water quickly. This is why wearing a wetsuit and a life jacket is so important. It is unclear if the kayaker was using any of these safety devices at the time of the accident.
North Lake was built in 1907 to provide drinking water to Trinidad, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife. The lake is located along Colorado Highway 12 at approximately 8,500 feet above sea level and it is part of the 840-acre state wildlife area. A water report from 2019 shows that the lake still provides drinking water to the town.
Out There Colorado expresses its gratitude to the first responders on this mission, including Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the Las Animas County Sheriff’s Office, the Stonewall Fire Department, and the Summit County Search and Rescue team.
The public is advised not to participate in risky outdoor activities that may pull resources from the pandemic response team that is fighting to stop the spreading coronavirus in Colorado. Please stay close to home and only participate in safe activities and practice social distancing.
Photo Credit: Jeffrey Beall (Wikimedia Commons)