Update: The fifteen-year-old boy who was pulled from Cherry Creek Reservoir on July 22, as recounted in our previous coverage, on view below, has died. The teen has been identified as Trent Nims, and while the final cause of death hasn't been determined, drowning is suspected. He is at least the fourteenth person to die at a Colorado water attraction in 2017. Continue for our earlier report.
Original post, 5:58 a.m. July 24: The drowning death of a man in the Platte River on Saturday, July 22, was the third involving a tubing accident in Colorado over the span of a week, and at least the thirteenth fatality at a state water attraction thus far in 2017. Moreover, a rescue at Cherry Creek Reservoir over the weekend helped prevent the death toll from climbing even higher.
As we've reported, the first water attraction fatality of the season in Colorado involved a man who lost his life during a commercial rafting expedition on the Arkansas River circa April 30. On June 3, Bryan Reim was swept away at the Potholes, a popular Western Colorado recreation site, and two days later, on June 5, 32-year-old Elyssa McCreight died during a rafting trip on an Eagle County portion of the upper Colorado River known as Boneyard Rapids.
Next came a June 28 post headlined "The River in Colorado Where Two People Have Drowned in Nine Days," which initially dealt with two fatalities on the Poudre. The first victim was Maximillian Lopez, an eighteen-year-old from Washington state, who died while tubing on June 18. The second incident involved William McHarg, a 64-year-old from Severance, who lost his life after the commercial raft in which he was traveling flipped on June 27.
We later updated the item to include information about a second death on the 27th, this one involving Lafayette's Mark Wher, also 64, who died after falling into the Arkansas River rapids known as Widow Maker.
The Tepee Rapids, where Michael Brinks's fatal accident took place.
YouTube file photo
Shortly thereafter, we learned about a third water-related casualty on the 27th, this one taking place at Eggleston Lake on the Grand Mesa, a gorgeous area along Colorado's Western Slope. Larry Smith Jr., 44, was paddle-boarding with a woman when he fell into the lake's frigid waters. And Cord Carpenter died at Jackson Lake, in Morgan County, after being reported missing on July 1. He was initially suspected of drowning, but subsequent reports suggest that he was felled by another health issue.
A ninth fatality involved Russ Zieglowsky, a 52-year-old former city councilman from Washington, Iowa; he died on June 21, but most Colorado news agencies didn't learn about what happened until a couple of weeks later. Zieglowsky toppled overboard on what has been described as a fairly easy stretch of the Taylor River, but he didn't respond to CPR. The official cause of death was drowning.
Then, at about 2 p.m. on July 15, Michael Brinks, a 66-year-old Craig resident, and a companion were traveling along the Tepee Rapids portion of the Yampa River in an inflatable kayak when he hit a rock. At that point, the kayak capsized, and even though the man was wearing a personal flotation device, he never came back to the surface. The person with Brinks reportedly kayaked more than twenty miles to Hells Canyon Ranch to seek help, with Dinosaur National Monument personnel learning what happened at about 9 p.m. The following day, rescue operations were launched, and the victim's body was recovered approximately three miles downstream from the accident, just shy of noon on the 16th.
The most recent series of incidents began on July 16, as noted on a GoFundMe page created on behalf of Claudia Acuña-Gallegos, a resident of Albuquerque, New Mexico.
"A tragic accident happened to [Claudia's] husband, Manuel Gallegos, on July 16," the item notes. "They were spending a weekend in Durango, Colorado at the Animas River, when suddenly things went wrong. Manuel Gallegos fell out of his tube at Smelter Rapid, in Whitewater park, and was found near the playground."
Four days later, Gallegos died. The GoFundMe page states: "God has taken another angel."
The GoFundMe page's title reads, "Please Help Bring Manuel Home." At this writing, more than $1,500 has been raised toward a goal of $10,000. Yesterday, his nephew posted this note on Facebook:
It's at night where everything hits me, where memories come to my head where I most need my uncle here with me.... It sucks knowing you will never see or hear that person ever again.... I really don't know why this happened to him. He was a very nice person with a great heart. But only God knows why and I thank God for the time He let us be with my uncle, cause he was like a second dad to me....
More dire news came on July 21. At about 12:45 p.m., according to the Golden Sheriff's Office, authorities received a 911 call about a 48-year-old woman tubing in Clear Creek who'd disappeared after falling into the water. When she resurfaced, she was pulled out of the creek, and personnel with the Golden Fire Department quickly began CPR. She was then rushed to St. Anthony's Hospital, but subsequently succumbed to her injuries. At this writing, the victim hasn't been identified pending next-of-kin notification.
Rescuers who helped save a teenager from Cherry Creek Reservoir on July 22.
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The same is true of a 43-year-old Castle Rock man who drowned near the Platte River Campground. The Jefferson County Sheriff's Office reveals that a camper saw the man in the river without his tube, floating face down near the bank. Individuals on the scene pulled him out of the water and began performing CPR. But he, too, was pronounced dead after being transported to St. Anthony's Hospital.
Another water rescue effort took place on July 22nd. A fifteen-year-old boy was reportedly at Cherry Creek Reservoir with family members when he went beneath the surface of the water.
Approximately thirty members of assorted rescue teams responded to the call for help, and they managed to get to the teen in time — though his present condition is unclear.