Steamboat Lake drowning victim identified
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Colorado Parks and Wildlife on Thursday identified the CPW employee who drowned in Steamboat Lake on Tuesday as David Mutabazi.
Mutabazi, 24, was swimming in the lake after his shift ended. About 4:30 p.m., a witness observed him struggling about 100 yards offshore and eventually disappearing under the water. The witness said she tried to swim out to help him, but was unable to reach him.
First responders were called to the scene at 4:49 p.m., and a dive team from Summit County was dispatched to assist, alongside Routt County Sheriff’s Office deputies, CPW staff, North Routt Fire Protection District firefighters and Emergency Medical Services, who searched the water from boats and jet skis.
Officials recovered Mutabazi’s body about the same evening.
“We are shocked and very saddened by this loss,” Park Manager Julie Arington said in the release. “David was a great, responsible person and a hard worker. It’s just a tragedy for his family, me, everyone at the park, CPW and everybody that knew him.”
Mutabazi was an immigrant from Africa and a student at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. As part of a recruiting program established between Steamboat Lake State Park and the college, he joined two other students to fill a variety of positions at the park for the season, according to CPW’s release.
According to his friends and coworkers, Mutabazi frequently swam in the lake after his afternoon jog around the park.
“He was strong and athletic,” Arington said. “We do not know what happened. It appears to be just a tragic accident.”
Park officials say Mutabazi was outside of the swim beach boundaries but still within an area where swimming is allowed and protected from boat traffic. The water was calm and was around 73 degrees at the time.
“The people that saw him before he entered the water said he was acting normally and in great spirits,” Arington said. “We certainly do not suspect the use of alcohol or drugs.”
Routt County Sheriff’s Office conducted an investigation and concluded the drowning was accidental, but an autopsy will be performed.
The incident was the second death at Steamboat Lake in less than a month. On June 15, a 64-year-old Kansas man drowned while swimming after a boat that had drifted into the lake. Prior to these two incidents, park officials had not recorded any drownings in the lake’s history.
A two-vehicle, head-on crash near Green Mountain Reservoir on Sunday closed Colorado Highway 9 for multiple hours and sent at least eight people to hospitals, including one via a Flight For Life helicopter.