Man drowns in tubing accident near Pueblo

Arkansas River at Lake Pueblo State Park
Arkansas River at Lake Pueblo State Park / FOX21 File Photo

PUEBLO, Colo. — A 23-year-old man has died after drowning in the Arkansas River at Lake Pueblo State Park.

Authorities said Steven Kelly of Parker was pronounced dead at the scene near the Cottonwood picnic area. Police said Kelly drowned in a tubing accident around 11:30 a.m.

“It appears Kelly was trying to avoid drifting down the river by tying a rope to the footbridge located there,” Colorado Parks and Wildlife said in a statement. “The rope was then tied to his inner tube and his ankle. The tube broke away in the swift water and Kelly was unable to detach himself from the rope before he drowned.”

Parks and Wildlife said they believe Kelly was wearing a life jacket, but neither the tube nor the life jacket was recovered.

“This is not the type of water that you want to go out if you’re just going to try to float and have no experience,” Durango native and avid rafter Tom Wegs said.

He said several factors can cause the river to be deadly.

“It’s a very fast current. It’s a high water level.” Wegs said. “It’s coming from the bottom of the reservoir so it’s very cold.”

Trails in the area were closed for several hours during the coroner’s investigation, but they have since been reopened.

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