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Crews recover body of missing paddleboarder from water at Bear Creek Lake Park

Body was found using sonar
Rescue Crews
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Posted at 5:11 PM, May 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-24 13:41:27-04

UPDATE | Monday, 10:52 a.m. — Thee Jefferson County Coroner's Office has identified the paddleboarder who died at Big Soda Lake at Bear Creek Lake Park as Derek Eugene Hawkins Jr., 24, of Aurora. The cause of death is pending the lab results.


Lakewood, Colo. — Crews recovered the body of a missing paddleboarder overnight in the water at Bear Creek Lake Park.

A fun weekend on the water at Bear Creek Lake Park turned into a tragedy for a group of paddleboarders.

One of them apparently drowned.

Dive team members spent three hours searching for the victim on the west side of Soda Lake, near the swim beach Saturday.

They didn't find a trace, so they contacted Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

The Department's Marine Evidence Recovery Team set out with a drone, and some sonar equipment, and began methodically searching the lake in a grid pattern.

Parks & Wildlife's Marine Evidence Recovery Team

West Metro Fire Capt. Sean O'Hara said a small group of people were out paddleboarding when one of them disappeared.

"There was a phone that was dropped out in the water, and then somebody went looking for the phone, and when they kind of gathered themselves, one of the party failed to surface," he said.

O'Hara told Denver7 the water is about 30 to 35 feet deep in that area.

When asked whether the Dive Team will be called back if the drone or sonar locate something of interest, O'Hara replied, "at this point it's a recovery operation. We won't put divers in the water in the dark, so at first light in the morning, if the drone locates something, we'll have fresh divers out here and they will attempt to make a recovery then."

CPW tweeted early Sunday morning the body of the victim was recovered overnight and turned over to the Jefferson County Coroner. The body was discovered using a towfish sonar unit and recovered by a remotely operated vehicle.