Aug. 3, 2023
CPW Rangers at Lake Pueblo save woman in folding kayak who became trapped in Arkansas River
PUEBLO, Colo. – An afternoon of boating by three friends on the Arkansas River below the dam at Lake Pueblo State Park nearly turned tragic Thursday when a woman in a lightweight, folding kayak became snagged by a log and trapped in the water.
Passing bicyclists on shore saw the woman in distress in the river and called 9-1-1. The Pueblo County Sheriff’s Office notified the park around 3 p.m. and a team of Colorado Parks and Wildlife staffers immediately responded.
Lake Pueblo Seasonal Ranger Jacob Sims, who was on a bike patrol, was the first to spot the collapsed kayak about a mile below the dam near the Cottonwood Day Use area. Ranger Daryl Seder raced up in his patrol truck and was met at the scene by Seasonal Ranger Cass Bailey and Kelly Kohl, a park maintenance technician.
The victim, who was wearing a life jacket, was able to call out that her foot was trapped and she couldn’t move her leg. So Seder quickly pulled on his swiftwater rescue dry suit, which some rangers carry in their vehicles.
Safety ropes were tied to the back of Seder’s dry suit and he swam out to the woman.
“The water was about 3 feet deep and it was creating a bit of a current behind the log,” Seder said. “Her foot was trapped in the kayak, which had collapsed when it hit the log,” Seder said. “She had her other leg braced against the log.
“She certainly was in danger, no doubt, being trapped like that. Especially if the log had shifted. Even wearing a life jacket, if she had gotten pulled into the current, facedown, it could have been bad.”
Luckily, the woman stayed upright and calm and Seder was able to push the kayak deep into the current while pulling on her leg to free her foot.
“I had her float on her back to the shoreline where members of the Pueblo West Fire Department pulled her from the water,” Seder said.
A medical team from Pueblo West Fire Department checked the victim’s foot and ankle and eventually she was able to leave on her own.
“I’m very proud of my team for their quick response to this incident,” said Joe Stadterman, CPW’s park manager at Lake Pueblo. “It’s also gratifying to see this victim was wearing a life jacket. I have no doubt she would have drowned if she wasn’t wearing a life jacket. This incident could have turned out much worse.”
Lake Pueblo State Park Ranger Daryl Seder attempts to free a woman from a lightweight kayak she was in that collapsed after it hit a log in the Arkansas River below the dam on Thursday. Seder was able to save the woman, who suffered only minor injuries.
Photos courtesy of Colorado Parks and Wildlife / Kelly Kohl
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