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Old 06-20-2005   #1
BastrdSonOfElvis's Avatar
Thought-criminal, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 989
Boy presumed drowned at Pueblo Park

I went to Pueblo this afternoon to play and ended up helping the authorities search for the body of a thirteen year kid that tried to run through the park at over 2000cfc on an inflatable matress with no pfds or helmets. Shit, I don't think they even had a paddle. I got there about 45 minutes after he went under for the last says the two other kids on the matress. I guess they fell off at #3 and he disappeared just before #4. There were a couple other boaters looking...we kicked around the eddies and I got as close to #7 as I cared to to check out if he was still getting circed in there. Then me and another guy floated down to the dam (looks runnable btw) where we took out. No sign.

Talk about a media circus. Maybe this is what it takes to make people aware of the danger. Too bad. I feel for the kid...too young to really know what was up. I probably would've done dumb shit like that when I was that age...that's why my parents kept me on a short leash.

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Old 06-21-2005   #2
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 46
Sorry to hear about this, but people's lack of common sense regarding high water just blows me away.

I paddled past some guy on lower mish last weekend on a walmart inner tube -- no pdf, wetsuit or helmet. I think it was running 3.6 on the lower gauge. All he was wearing was a mullet and about three teeth. He kept yelling things like "yahoo."

Here in steamboat, the tubers are already starting to use the river. The yampa is still running close to 2000 cfs -- tubers normally use the river about 100-250 cfs. Saw some pretty bad carnage in charlie's hole last night, including the loss of a bikini top (!). Too bad SHE wasn't wearing a life jacket.

In some respect, I think the sheriff's department should do a better job of posting river warnings for recreational swimmers, although we all know what happens to able, safe kayakers when the sheriff's department gets involved.

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Old 06-21-2005   #3
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The Ranch, Colorado
Paddling Since: 04
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 1,134
I'm notifying my company safety officer to include the Arkansas in future safety briefings. It's our backyard river here in the Springs.

I'm very sorry for the family of the boy.
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Old 06-21-2005   #4
pnw, Washington
Join Date: Oct 2003
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The Pueblo park has the largest flows of any of the front range ww parks and it is probably a class III run with a class IV(or worse) hole at #7. It is very unfortunate that this happened but if you spend any time down there you could see this coming and maybe the word will get out that this is serious water at 2200 cfs. It is very unfortunate for the boy and his family. My thoughts are with the family of the boy and the kayakers that saved one of the boys.
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Old 06-21-2005   #5
Join Date: May 2005
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I feel for the family and friends of this kid. It;s really a shame.

Do you guys feel that we as kayakers have a responsibility to be telling these guys that they need to get out when we see a potentailly unsafe situation? I always give my $0.02 to the K-mart rafters even though they only listen about 1/4 of the time......
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Old 06-21-2005   #6
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Colorado Springs, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1992
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 205
Responsibility is such a legal term....I'd say we have a moral obligation, especially with kids. However, I've witnessed some crazy stuff while a raft guide and it was with adults....some yahoos were about to launch the Royal Gorge at high water in a beefed up K-Mart raft with orange floatie PFDs. I think they were concerned about safety, but just lacked IQ. We were successful at convincing them not to launch. In Canon City at the boater sluice wave, we were yelling across stream trying to stop some mullet men from jumping in above the dam - they uttered some profanities and shot the rapids. They didn't pay for it with their life, but I think the one guy broke his ass or had a part of the concrete dam up it from the way he was crying barely walking.

As for these kids, my heart goes out to the parents. It is a tragedy that they didn't have better supervision by their parents or someone. As for number 7, they need to do something with that monster!
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Old 06-21-2005   #7
pnw, Washington
Join Date: Oct 2003
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About 3 or 4 weeks ago we saw an adult and 3 kids coming over #6 in the Pueblo whitewater park in a kmart raft with no lifejackets. We ran up and tried to warn them and they just stared at us. We were jumping and yelling and they disregarded us. Everyone survived but it was ugly. Turns out this guy was warned by the local shop and two kayakers above #2. While watching the kids stuck in #7 it made me very angry at the adult. Honestly there wasnt much else we could do other than try our best to rescue the kids. From talking to kayakers at th ww park several people have had similar incidents in Pueblo where people would just totally disregard the warnings and even threaten the person giving the warning. Not much you can do at that point. Until they start taking the river seriously at higher flows I am not sure what could be done.
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Old 06-22-2005   #8
US Army Officer
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 10
I was raised in Pueblo. I don't know how many times I played "Huck Fin" in JUN on that river. I didn't know what high water was.

Common sense is based on experience. These kids see paddlers having fun and they want to have fun too. Do we have a moral obligation? Yes! Everytime we see someone testing Darwin's theory on water we should attempt to make a difference. The key is to influence not preach and yell.

No doubt Pueblo needs a more active awareness program through schools and Parks & Recreation. Might not be a bad idea to have a citizens patrol. Or even having volunteer safety boater=life guards during high water periods.

In 2002 I had to testify in support of the Park against safety concerns. A short period of time before that a fisherman had drown near what is now the put-in at low water. He likely would have been saved by a kayaker like one of these boys was. This is the first death of a kid playing Huck Fin on the Ark through Pueblo, but hopefully as a result of the Park, and the safety awareness it provides such accidents will be reduced.

I would love to see Pueblo Parks and Recreation lead the way with a kids paddling program. A new kind of High School Rodeo team.

This park is a CL III section at high water with a bad hole...nothing more nothing less. The first decent of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison was done with nothing more than an air matress and horse collar PFD's by guys that had no experience in whitewater a little over 100 years ago.

The important thing right now is to engage kids and adults about the fun and danger of the park. Had these kids simply been wearing properly fitting PFDs as required for use of the WW Park, they most likely would have been fine.

For those of you using the park, check in with Bob Walker and see what you can do to help.

Tim Kelley
AW Safety Chair
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Old 06-22-2005   #9
pnw, Washington
Join Date: Oct 2003
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Tim, on the serious side, I agree with everything you said and always appreciate your well thought out posts. As we play at the park we are doing what we can to educate people to the danger. On the lighter side, I do my part by making simple front surfing look very hard.
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Old 06-22-2005   #10
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Thought-criminal, Colorado
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Might be a good idea to start bringing a throw rope whenever we go there to play. I never planned on using it to help another boater at a little play spot like that, but there seem to be enough people with little river savvy floating through there at the mercy of the river gods.

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