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In today's Pueblo Chieftain (the local news paper) an article ran with the heading: "Rafting accident raises safety issues for city". In the article the kid's brother suggests putting up gates to keep kids out and the president of the city council raises the question of fencing off the entire park. The mother is quoted as saying, and I'm not joking: "the kayak course is basically a place for spawning death for children who are impoverished", saying that the park "caters to higher-income enthusiasts rather than average Puebloans".
I know emotions are high and most of this can probably be attributed to that fact. Most likely this whole issue will blow over in a week or two, but we should all keep an eye on how this is handled. The people of Pueblo will need to hear the other side of the story before too many people jump on this bandwagon.
If anyone has anything to say:

Letters to the Editor, Pueblo Chieftain, P.O. Box 4040, Pueblo, CO 81003

by e-mail: [email protected]

All letters must include the author's full name, address and telephone number
 

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just a general question, did anyone at all (kayaks, rafts, tubers, idiots, anyone) float in the river BEFORE the park features were built? while it could be argued that the risk is slightly higher due to the park, the same risk of drowning still existed before the features were added.

the mother's quote:
"There should be somebody at the kayak park to monitor what people are using to ride the river," Carol McDaniel said.

like a parent? come on lady, take some responsability here for your actions.

another quote:
State law requires recreational users of the river to wear a life jacket, Zupancic (the Assistant Fire Cheif) said.

sorry to be brash, but this boils down to darwinism in effect, and the stupid lady got her kid killed instead of herself. flame if you must.
 

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I tried to tone that down but that is basically the note I sent to the paper. I pointed out that if these kids took this raft on any body of water with no pfd's that the outcome could have been the same. Should we fence off every reservoir in Colorado? I am sure this woman has a lot to deal with right now and I am sorry for her loss but for all she knew her kid could have been skateboarding on I25. Can we honestly as a society remove every hazard that a person can run into? No. These kids walked by a sign stating the law of requiring pfds and chose to disregard it. They would have climbed over a fence as well.
 

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I read somewhere that before the park was built it was illigal to swim in the Ark through Pueblo. That law was revoked for the park. I want to know if any kids swam in it then? Kids will always break the rules and do stupid things.

One kid was found dead today in the Springs in a culvert after the floods we had yesterday. He shouldn't of been playing in the creek either.

jj
 

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damn, i wanna punch this woman in the brain. Does anyone take accountability anymore. "Lets destroy these awful man-eating rapids", and the mountains too, cause i know someone who died there once. And...ski resorts, forget it, way to dangerous. Lets 86 all the ski resorts while we're at it. And, what about all those Alpine-slides, like the one in golden and Breck, those things have been pissin me off for years. When are we gonna make this state idiot-proof? Stop the madness
 

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I was wrong to indicate that she didnt know where her kid was. She may have known and he may have disobeyed her instructions. I honestly have no idea.
 

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As the folks who directly benefit from this park, we need to stay on top of the issue as Magfaser suggests. This means trying to diffuse the anticipated tirade of negativity towards the park, all the while being mindful of the fact that this was a tragedy. So write into the paper, but be tactful.

Without a doubt, Sunday’s paper will be filled with a bunch of bullshit opinions similar to the quotes from today’s article. If you do write into the paper; obviously, do not mention anything akin to “natural selection at work.”
 

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I see this every day I paddle, I was even talking to a park ranger I was paddling with today about it.

The Law states that everyone on a single chamber inflatable including inner tubes must be wearing a pfd and that includes not just the rivers he told me even on lakes like Chatfeild. Today I saw 9 people float past without them. Wish I could write the tickets too.
 

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When the park was just getting started I ran into one of the Pueblo City Councilman that supported the park. I gave him very positive feedback and thanked him. He wanted some written feedback and he gave me his card so I sent him some emails but they came back undelivered. I still have the card so I called him today but he is out of town. I will keep trying him and if he wants more POSITIVE feedback I will post a message out here and take the best of the notes and fedex them to his office. Lets see what we can do to support the people who supported us.

"the kayak course is basically a place for spawning death for children who are impoverished", saying that the park "caters to higher-income enthusiasts rather than average Puebloans".
After rereading this quote from the mother, who talks this way? Impoverished? Especially when they are upset. This is lawyer speak, she is already setting up to sue the city.
 

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I've got little kids, so I feel for the family.

Boulder creek is safe, most of the time, for tubbers...
Golden is safe, most of the time, for tubbers....
My suggestion is that they modify the Pueblo WWP to be safe, most of the time, for tubbers....
This way the kayak community can still use it and tubbers can use it...

When the river is too high, they could keep tubbers off, just as they do in Boulder.
 

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OK, Some of you guys need to chill way out.

This self rightous nonsense will get published and hurt not only this WW Park but the entire development of Parks like this.

There is absolutly no reason to say anything negative about this mother and/or her dead child. This is a tragic death of a child which the entire community, boaters and others mourn. end of story.

A poster above suggested contacting the City Councilman. This absolutly needs to be done in a massive way by Park users.

Some thought needs to be given to ways to prevent furture similar problems. What can boaters do to help?

Remember, this forum is public. Anybody can and will access it and use what is said here. I have never been to this Park and will probably never use it but have been involved in enough access fights and lawsuits and civic battles to see when a community (us) is shooting itself in the foot. This is neither the time nor the place for self serving, self rightous, comments regarding theses people who experienced a terrible and avoidable tragedy.

As a former AW Access Chairman, I strongly urge you to get involved with the solution and to restrain harmful comments. I realize that these comments come only from a tiny minority of the boating community and like everyone else, we have thoughtless people but they can be very harmful. Chris Kelly
 

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I'm a professional editor for a living. If anyone wants their submission to the Chieftain reviewed or critiqued, contact me via private message at this site and I'll give you my personal e-mail address.
 

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I don't see how the Mom could successfully sue the city on this, an unsupervised 14, 12 and 9 year old walk past a big sign saying you need lifejackets on the river, and one of them drowns. Very sad, but in no way is the city liable to fence off the area or provide life gaurds.

I agree, with the previous poster, they just need to shut down the river to tubers when they know it is going to be high in the spring. Boulder has been doing this for years, the police put up a bunch of fliers about a week before the run-off hits, and then they wait for the water to come down to reasonable levels before opening it again.
 

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I think it's easy to forget that most people don't have the context for accessing the danger of whitewater that experienced boaters do. Without that context it's not a person being stupid, it's just being unknowledgeable. For kids of teenagers that lack of context is just exacerbated by the exuberance of youth.

A partial shutdown ala Boulder and signs warning of the danger, the severity of the water level (like the fire signs: lower/medium/high) or "people have died here", etc. is a great idea.

I really believe the solution is to educate people using these parks that are not experienced in whitewater, and of course enforcing existing laws like the life jacket.
 

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more to the point....

More to the point is why was the kid down there, why wasn't the mother aware of what her child was doing, and why isn't she taking some reposibility here for not keeping up with what her kid does?

It could have been much the same had the kid been climbing up on the Flatirons without aid devices and falling to his death. Lord knows how many kids and college students I helped load up into a body bag there in the 70's.

The mechanism may have been the kid's unknowledgable and I will say it, STUPID act of floating in a whitewater park on an air bed, but the bottomline is his mother is as equally culpable in this. Kid's for the most part do not think in terms of consequences for actions, hence they try things. It's really quite a human thing to do so. Parents need to know what their kids are up to.
 

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Many towns have big gnarly people eating white water features. How many ditches are filled with diversion dams? I guess it is always eaisier to point fingers.
 

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I agree this mother is suffering a loss and is looking for some way to understand how this can happen. Blaming the WW park and the city is her outlet right now. Understandable.

I doubt she will have much luck in a lawsuit against the city if she wants to head in that direction. The Colorado Governmental Immunities Act protects governments from being sued... not to say there aren't exceptions, but I doubt if this would fall into the exception category. It would be similar to someone being struck by lighting on a city owned golf course and then pressing a lawsuit... or a person falling into a city owned lake and drowning. Neither would have much luck in their attempts.

I doubt the WW park is going anywhere as well. The park brings money and tax revenue into the city. All the people from C. Springs, Denver and other areas that come to Pueblo to use the park most likely wouldn't be coming to the city otherwise and the city council must realize that. The threat of losing the lawsuit is slim and the tax revenue generated is important. I agree with the poster who said this will blow over in a couple of weeks. For right now, it's just a sad story of the dangers involved with fast-moving, high water. A lesson for us all.
 

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Even before I became a kayaker I would have known this wasnt safe. At 2200cfs this water is moving and big but I am tired of second guessing their choices. Should have never done that in the first place. It certainly wouldnt hurt to close the ww park to tubers, swimmers over something like 800 cfs or for a certain time period but as I stated there are signs saying that a pfd is required. If another sign was installed stating that the park is closed to tubers due to high water would it stop people from going?
 

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If another sign was installed stating that the park is closed to tubers due to high water would it stop people from going?
It would keep some people off, but not all. It would provide a little more protection for the city from frivilous lawsuits.
 
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