This has been Colorado’s deadliest year for recreation-related drownings |

This has been Colorado’s deadliest year for recreation-related drownings

As paddle boarding, rafting and tubing become more popular, the chance for accidents rises as well

John Meyer
The Denver Post
Sailors race during last weekend's 2021 U.S. Sailing Rocky Mountain Junior Olympics on Dillon Reservoir in Dillon.
Elaine Collins/Courtesy photo

More people have died on Colorado waters so far in 2022 than ever before, according to numbers compiled by Colorado Parks and Wildlife. The majority of these recreation-related deaths, 34, took place on lakes, rivers and reservoirs, while two of the victims were camping when they were swept away by a flash flood in the Roosevelt National Forest.

The previous record of 34 was set in 2020. There were 24 drownings in 2019 and 22 last year.

“It’s just more people coming to Colorado,” said CPW spokesman Joey Livingston. “People come to Colorado to get outdoors and recreate. The more people that are here, the more that are out there recreating. That is going to increase the chances of incidents happening.”

Of the total, 22 of the deaths were classified as “flatwater,” meaning lakes, and 12 occurred on “swiftwater’” meaning rivers. Eleven of the drowning victims were swimmers while five were paddle boarding. Four happened while rafting and three while tubing.

CPW doesn’t have figures on how many of the fatalities this year were alcohol-related, but the CDC says alcohol is involved in up to 70% of water-recreation deaths from year to year.

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