Update: Cord Carpenter, the subject of the post below, was originally thought to have drowned, but subsequent reports suggest that he was felled by another health issue. For more information, see our post headlined "Tenth Death at Colorado Water Attraction in 2017." Continue for our previous coverage, in which minor copy adjustments have been made to reflect the new information.
Original post, 8:29 a.m. July 3: The Jackson Lake death of Cord Carpenter, 45, who was reported missing on Saturday, July 1, adds to the already high toll at Colorado water attractions this season. Carpenter is the fourth person to die at a river or lake in the state over a five day period, with three of the deaths taking place on a single day.
As we've reported, a June 28 post headlined "The River in Colorado Where Two People Have Drowned in Nine Days" 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, while 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 Arkansas River rapids known as Widow Maker. He was the second person to die on the Arkansas this season; the first rafting fatality of the season took place there on April 30.
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.
The woman and another witness tried to rescue Smith, who had a life jacket on the paddle board but wasn't wearing it at the time he went into the water. However, the Delta County Sheriff's Office says the two were unable to save him due to the frigid temperature of the water.
As for what happened to Carpenter, the Morgan County Sheriff's Office notes that he was reported missing late on the 1st, but a preliminary search conducted by MCSO deputies didn't yield any clues.
The next morning, investigators canvassing the area came upon a witness who recalled a man swimming in Jackson Lake near a boat dock late on the previous afternoon. Surveillance cameras subsequently confirmed that Carpenter had entered the water but failed to return.
Shortly thereafter, a crew that included MCSO personnel, Colorado Parks and Wildlife rangers and a dive team from the Platte Valley Fire Protection District fanned out in the area. Late on the morning of the 2nd, authorities located Carpenter's body approximately sixty feet from the shore.
At this writing, a cause of death hasn't been formally established. But the sheriff's office is calling it an apparent drowning.
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