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Jason McKain, RIP: Colorado Progressive Coalition Vet Drowned in Boulder Creek

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Yesterday, the Boulder County coroner identified the man found dead in Boulder Creek on Monday.

The victim was Jason McKain, 42 — and the news sent shock waves through the progressive political scene in the state.

That's because McKain, who'd been fly-fishing when he went missing, is the former co-executive director of the Colorado Progressive Coalition.

The first release about the situation was issued early Sunday evening, June 14.

At around 4:25 p.m. that day, according to the Boulder County Sheriff's Office, county communications received a call from someone who "saw what they thought to be a person dressed in fishing gear floating down Boulder Creek in Boulder Canyon."

The last sighing was in the area of Dome Rock.

A search was conducted until nightfall, and the next day, recovery efforts were hampered by the volume of water. On Monday, June 15, the BCSO noted that "Boulder Creek is currently running at approximately 560-580 cubic feet per second." As such, the water was moving too quickly for "divers to be in the water with limited information as to where the person may be located."

Meanwhile, the BCSO noted that an initially unidentified man "failed to return home Sunday evening" from a Boulder Canyon fishing excursion "and his vehicle was located in the area of Sugarloaf Road and Highway 119."

Later Monday, however, the body was recovered and word that the victim was McKain began circulating on social media. Shortly after the coroner's office released McKain's name, the Colorado Progressive Coalition posted the following remembrance:

It is with heavy heart that the CPC family mourns the loss of one of our own, today. A vigilant rebel in the fight against social injustice and oppression, former CPC Co-Executive Director Jason McKain was a giant killer who refused convention in the battle to tear down unjust social constructs.

Jason would often tell others how the members and staff of CPC were giant killers, waging a social justice war against big banks, industry, and governmental structures that perpetuated systems of inequality and harm our community. Yet behind the speech, it was Jason who was working to build the skills and empowerment of staff and members, calling on years of organizing training garnered around the world to push each of us to step beyond the norm to effect change. And when it was time to effect that change, Jason would be leading the “organized chaos” as we stormed Wells Fargo for its unjust practices, called on members of the Denver police force to end their assault on our communities, and pushed beyond blockades to deliver our message of racial, economic, health and civil equality.

Jason’s sense of social justice was expressed through his love for CPC staff. As a supervisor and leader he did something that seems very simple, but is often very hard — he believed in each of us. Not just an expression of belief, but belief that came with the full force of his gargantuan efforts behind it. Jason was CPC’s own giant, whose belief in each of us was instrumental in breaking down organizational hierarchies and building an environment of inclusivity that provided the tools and authority to battle seeming insurmountable social monsters.

A few days ago, while spending time in the nature he loved, Jason passed away on a fishing trip. A loving husband and father to two beautiful children whom he adored, Jason’s absence will be felt by many in our community as our hearts go out to his memory and his family.

For the CPC family, Jason will always be known as a man who, uncompromising in his beliefs, fought, built and won a better tomorrow for all of us. CPC stands in solidarity today in mourning the death of Jason McKain, a loyal comrade, friend, and giant killer. Good bye, Jason. We miss you.

A briefer note about McKain is shared on a GoFundMe page created to help his family in the wake of their loss. It reads:

Jason McKain, husband to Hava Gordon and father to 6-year old twins, Lael and Ollie, died tragically in a fly fishing accident on Sunday, June 14th. Jason was a seasoned fisherman and avid lover of nature. We are heartbroken, shocked and want to do everything we can to help this remarkable family.

At this writing, just over $5,600 has been pledged toward a goal of $5,000.

A memorial service for McKain is scheduled to get underway at 10:30 a.m. tomorrow, June 19, at the Emanuel section of the Fairmount Cemetery, 430 South Quebec Street.

In the meantime, we send our sincere condolences to the friends, family and loved ones of Jason McKain.

Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.

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