Public Safety

Kirkwood graduate drowns at Steamboat Lake State Park in Colorado

Contributed photo of David Mutabazi, 24
Contributed photo of David Mutabazi, 24

A Kirkwood Community College graduate drowned Tuesday at Steamboat Lake State Park in Steamboat Springs, Colo., according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

David Mutabazi, 24, of Cedar Rapids was a seasonal employee at the park, according to a news release. After finishing his shift at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Mutabazi drowned while swimming in the park’s lake.

A Routt County Sheriff’s Office investigation concluded the drowning was an accident.

A witness said Mutabazi was about 100 yards from shore when he began struggling. The witness said she tried to swim out to him, but Mutabazi had sunk below the surface before she was able to reach him.

After a brief search, Colorado Parks and Wildlife rangers and a Routt County deputy recovered Mutabazi’s body just before 10 p.m.

“We are shocked and very saddened by this loss,” Park Manager Julie Arington said in the new 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.”

An immigrant from the Republic of Congo, according to the Steamboat Pilot and Today, Mutabazi started working at Steamboat Lake State Park in May.

As part of a recruiting program established between the state park and Kirkwood, Mutabazi joined two other students from the college to fill a variety of positions at the park for the season.

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According to his friends and co-workers, Mutabazi frequently swam in the lake after his afternoon jog around the park.

“He was strong and athletic,” Arington said. “We do not know what happened. It appears to be just a tragic accident.”

According to park officials, Mutabazi was outside swimming-area boundaries but still within an area where swimming is allowed and protected from boat traffic. The water was calm and about 73 degrees at the time.

“The people that saw him before he entered the water said he was acting normally and in great spirits,” said Arington. “We certainly do not suspect the use of alcohol or drugs.”

Routt County Coroner Rob Ryg said cause of death was asphyxiation due to fresh water drowning.

l Comments: (319) 398-8238; kat.russell@thegazette.com

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