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1 dead, 2 survive after boat sinks in Lake Pueblo

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Posted at 11:31 AM, Jul 16, 2023
and last updated 2023-07-17 16:05:07-04

PUEBLO, Colo. – A man attempting to swim from a sinking boat in Lake Pueblo Saturday evening didn’t make it to shore and died, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife. His body was recovered shortly after.

Three people were in a small ski boat when it began taking on water and quickly sank, park rangers said. Two of the occupants were wearing life jackets and resurfaced. They were uninjured.

The victim, identified as 25-year-old Joey Isaac Tafoya, of Colorado Springs, tried to swim to shore but quickly began struggling, CPW said in a news release. He was wearing pants and boots, but no life jacket.

CPW said witnesses on shore tried to swim out to the man but were unable to reach him before he disappeared below the surface of the water.

The Pueblo County Sheriff’s volunteer dive team arrived and recovered the man’s body from about 7 feet of water, according to the news release.

The incident occurred about 50 yards offshore near the Big Lizard Picnic Pavilion on the lake’s north side.

The CPW said the rangers noticed the boat was taking on water shortly after they left the marina. They believe the combination of the weight from the water in the boat and choppy waves on the lake swamped the boat, causing it to quickly sink. 

“While we continue to investigate, this appears to be a tragic accident,” Senior Park Ranger Daryl Seder said in a news release. “We offer our condolences to the family and friends of this victim.”

This is the first death on Lake Pueblo this year. If confirmed by the coroner, this death would be the 24th water-related death in Colorado in 2023. A record 42 people died in water-related incidents in 2022.

Editor's note on July 17 at 2 p.m.: This story has been updated with the victim's identity.

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