Empty Paddleboard Found on Colorado Lake Leads Rescuers To Body

by Taylor Cunningham

An unidentified man has been found dead in a Colorado Lake after boaters report an empty paddleboard floating in the water.

According to the state’s Parks and Wildlife, a man was seen falling into James M. Robb Colorado State Park’s Corn Lake around 8 pm Saturday (Sept. 10). The witnesses claimed that the paddleboarder was not wearing a lifejacket, and they did not see him resurface.

Officers with the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office arrived on the scene to search for a missing person. However, the search quickly turned into a recovery mission after deputies spoke with several other witnesses and determined how long the victim had been underwater.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife sent a Marine Evidence Recovery Team (MERT) unit to the scene around 10 pm. The team used a “remote operated vehicle (ROV) equipped with sonar, lights, and video” to locate the body, according to officials.

Four hours later, police found the victim on the floor of the lake, approximately 7.5 feet below the surface. He was taken to the Mesa County Coroner’s Office for an autopsy, though they suspect he drowned. The Sheriff’s office has not shared the man’s identity.

Colorado requires that all people on watercraft, including paddleboards, wear life jackets. And CPW is reminding people that the law saves lives.

“Colorado Parks and Wildlife reminds everyone that life jackets are required for all watercraft in Colorado, including paddle boards and other hand-powered watercraft,” the department said. “This incident serves as a reminder of the importance of having and wearing a life jacket while recreating in any body of water.”

Man Drowns in Lake Mead National Recreation Area

The incident comes days after officials with Lake Mead National Recreation Area reported another drowning in Lake Mohave.

According to accounts, a 44-year-old man was seen struggling as he attempted to swim back to his boat on Friday, Sept. 2. He was not wearing a life jacket, nor did he have a personal floatation device. Passengers on the boat threw life jackets to the man. But he was unable to reach them and eventually disappeared into the water.

A witness called 911 around 2 pm, and park rangers arrived on the scene in the Cottonwood Cove area shortly after. A dive team began a search that lasted through the evening until heavy winds forced them to suspend the efforts. The following morning, divers recovered the body.

According to Newsweek, an official investigation is still underway. And police have not yet shared the identity of the victim.