Near tragedy at Lake Pueblo serves as good reminder for law requiring spotters on ski boats after tuber is lost by boat operator on vast reservoir
Credit: CPW News Release
PUEBLO, Colo. – A near tragedy at Lake Pueblo State Park serves as a good reminder of the need for boaters to always have a spotter when they are pulling skiers and tubers.
Around 2:30 p.m. on Monday, park rangers received a report that a person being towed on an inflatable tube behind a boat had fallen off and was missing near Three Fingers Cove.
Rangers raced to the scene by boat to initiate a search and rescue. They were joined by the Pueblo County Sheriff's Office Dive Rescue Team.
About 30 minutes later, a Colorado Parks and Wildlife aquatic nuisance species (ANS) inspector at the North Ramp called to report a man had shown up claiming he swam across the lake. It was later learned the man actually had been pulled from the lake by another boater and dropped off at the North Ramp. Rangers determined the man at the ANS station was the missing tuber.
The search and rescue was called off and rangers began investigating the incident. The rangers determined the tuber had gone missing because there was no observer on board the boat pulling him. There was only the operator of the boat and the man being towed.
The boat operator didn’t see the tuber fall off and called 9-1-1 when he was unable to locate the tuber on the vast reservoir.
Alcohol use was investigated as a possible factor in the incident, but no impairment was determined with the operator.
State regulations require an observer (with an orange or red flag) be on board a vessel anytime a person is being towed. This is for water-skiing, wake-boarding and inner-tubing.
"The requirement for a third person, the observer, to be on board the boat when towing people is often misunderstood or easily dismissed by boaters." said Monique Mullis, park manager.
"This incident serves as a chilling reminder of why it is so important to have another set of eyes watching the tuber. The operator must focus ahead and navigate the boat safely. A tuber can fall off and quickly disappear from view. Thankfully, this tuber was wearing a life jacket and was very lucky. But he could have just as easily become another boating tragedy."
Even with summer winding down, it is never too late to refresh your boating safety knowledge and skills. A wealth of information on boating and the regulations can be found at: https://cpw.state.co.us/thingstodo/Pages/boat.aspx.