Authorities release identity of Parks and Wildlife employee who drowned in Steamboat Lake
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS – David Mutabazi, a 24-year-old seasonal employee at Steamboat Lake State Park, died Tuesday after he drowned during a regular evening swim, said Routt County Coroner Robert Ryg.
“We are shocked and very saddened by this loss,” said Park Manager Julie Arington in a Colorado Parks and Wildlife news release. “David was a great, responsible person and a hard worker. It’s just a tragedy for his family, me, everyone at the park, CPW and everybody that knew him.”
Mutabazi was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He was a resident of the United States and has lived in the U.S. since 2012, Ryg said. According to the CPW news release, Mutabazi lived in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where he was a student at Kirkwood Community College.
He was working at the park as part of a recruiting program established between Steamboat Lake State Park and the school. He and two other students from the college filled a variety of positions at the park for the season, according to the news release.
An autopsy determined the cause of Mutabazi’s death was drowning, Ryg said. Mutabazi’s body was in excellent physical condition and he had no heart issues.
According to the news release, Mutabazi frequently swam in the lake after his evening run in the park.
On Tuesday, Mutabazi completed his run and began swimming in the lake. CPW said in the news release that he was swimming outside of swim beach boundaries but within an area where swimming is allowed and protected from boat traffic. The water was calm and approximately 73 degrees at the time he went for his swim.
“The people that saw him before he entered the water said he was acting normally and in great spirits,” Arington said in the news release. “We certainly do not suspect the use of alcohol or drugs.”
Soon after he got in the water, Mutabazi started struggling. He was about 100 feet away from the shore.
A person saw him having difficulties and swam out to try to help, according to Ryg and the CPW release. By the time the person got to him, Mutabazi had gone under the water.
Ryg theorizes that Mutabazi got a cramp as his body tried to adjust from a hot workout to the cooler water temperatures of Steamboat Lake.
“What we can speculate is that he cramped up from being very warm and going in the water,” Ryg said. “He had a cramping situation that caused him to go down.”
First responders were called to the scene at 4:49 p.m. Tuesday. They requested assistance from a dive team in Summit County about 30 minutes after arriving on the scene. Local authorities recovered Mutabazi’s body before the dive team arrived.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife staff, Routt County Sheriff’s Office deputies and North Routt County Fire Protection District firefighters and EMS searched for Mubazi from boats and a jet ski for about five hours Tuesday night before locating him at 9:45 p.m.
The incident was the second drowning at Steamboat Lake in less than a month. On June 15, a 64-year-old Kansas man drowned while swimming after a boat that drifted into the lake. No other drownings have been recorded in the lake’s history.
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