Accident Database

Report ID# 103381

  • Caught in Low Head Dam Hydraulic
  • Equipment Trap
  • Does not Apply
  • One Boat Trip

Accident Description

Two people drown in Arkansas River after getting ejected from raft

By Zachary Aedo; KRDO TV Colorado Springs, CO

June 21, 2020

PUEBLO, Colo. (KRDO) -- A sad Father's Day as Pueblo police said a man and his son died after drowning in the Arkansas River on Sunday afternoon. Pueblo firefighters and officers responded around 1:24 p.m. to the area of 4 Reservoir Road, an area next to the Arkansas River and near the Pueblo Reservoir. The Pueblo County Coroner identified the victims as Ricardo Valencia Sanchez, 46, and his son, Jose Louis Valencia, 16, of Aurora.

First responders were dispatched for a water rescue. When they arrived, witnesses said three people -- including an adult male and a juvenile male -- had been ejected from a raft and were trapped in a river hydraulic.

"It's under the low head dam near City Park," said Capt. Bryce Boyer, of the Pueblo Fire Department. "It causes a circulation that can pull a lot of things under the surface of the water, circulate them around. We advise rafters to stay away from it because it can be dangerous."

After several minutes, one passenger made it to shore but the raft emerged from the current with the father and son entangled in the raft's rope. Firefighters intercepted the raft less than a mile downriver and dragged the two people to shore. Efforts to revive them were unsuccessful. The victims were pronounced dead at the scene. Police say both were wearing flotation vests.

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