Sheriff Urges Water Safety

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Summit County Sheriff Urges Water Safety and Responsibility After Multiple Weekend Incidents

Summit County, Colorado – On Saturday, May 25, 2024, around 2:30p.m., a windstorm hit Dillon Reservoir. Summit County Sheriff Office boat rangers, with the assistance of staff from the Dillon Marina, conducted multiple water rescues.

Rangers and marina personnel responded to a capsized kayak with a male in the water and his kayak blowing towards Robers Tunnel. As rescuers were en route to the kayaker, they received another call of a pontoon with 13 people on board being blown against the rocky shore of the reservoir’s Snake River Arm.

Rescuers split up with Dillon Marina personnel rescuing the kayaker, who was hypothermic and subsequently transported to Summit Medical Center, and the sheriff ranger assisting the pontoon boat. By the time the sheriff ranger reached the pontoon boot it had beached on the rocks below the Summerwood neighborhood with all 13 occupants safe.

The sheriff ranger then observed a swamped canoe near Pine Cove campground and located a male and female in the water, a quarter mile away from where their canoe had capsized in Heaton Bay. The couple had been in the water for 30 minutes and were hypothermic. The ranger recovered the couple from the water, and they were treated on board the Sheriff’s Office rescue boat, Marine One. The couple was then transported to the Frisco Marina where they received warm showers and a change of clothing.

The water temperature in the Dillon Reservoir is currently 43 degrees Fahrenheit. Everyone involved in these incidents was wearing life jackets/personal flotation device (PFDs), which saved lives.

Summit County Sheriff Jaime FitzSimons praised rescuers and reminded water recreationalists of the dangers of Lake Dillon. "This was the first weekend of 2024 Sheriff's Office operations on Lake Dillon. I’m so proud of the professionalism our boat rangers and marina personnel bring as they save lives every week on this lake," the Sheriff stated. He continued, "High alpine lakes, like Dillon Reservoir, are extremely dangerous. Even exceptionally strong swimmers can find their muscles seize when falling into 43-degree water. Without a PFD, drowning is likely, we see it every year.”

The Sheriff’s Office would like to remind everyone that PFDs are required for all watercraft in Colorado, including paddleboards and other hand-powered watercraft. It is also recommended to wear a leash when paddleboarding on flat water. These incidents serve as a reminder of the importance of having and wearing a life jacket while recreating in any body of water.