Public Safety

Colorado co-workers raising funds for family of drowned Cedar Rapids man

David Mutabazi
David Mutabazi

Colorado Parks and Wildlife has succeeded in raising more than $5,000 though a Go Fund Me page to help the family of a Cedar Rapids man who drowned last week while swimming at Steamboat Lake State Park near Steamboat Springs, Colo.

David Mutabazi, 24, had been working as a seasonal employee at the park since May, according to a new release from the agency.

Park officials said Mutabazi, a Kirkwood Community College graduate, finished his shift at 4:30 p.m. July 10 and went for a run followed by a swim at Steamboat Lake. It was typical for Mutabazi to run and swim after work, they said.

A witness told authorities Mutabazi was about 100 yards from the lake’s shore when he began to struggle in the water. The witness said she attempted to swim out to him, but he sank beneath the surface before she could reach him. His body was recovered at 10 p.m.

Routt County Coroner Rob Ryg said it was likely Mutabazi had experienced cramps, rendering him unable to swim.

“David’s passing has been very tough for all of us, but his family is very distraught and is now facing enormous financial strains,” Park Manager Julie Arington said. “We’ve heard from CPW employees and members of the public offering condolences and asking how they can help, (and) right now, financial assistance is probably the most effective thing people can do the help David’s family.”

Arington set up the Go Fund Me Page on Monday with the goal of helping Mutabazi’s family bring his body back to Iowa for burial.

Mutabazi’s mother, a refugee in Kenya, is struggling to find a way to travel to Iowa.

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“David’s family does not have much money to make these unexpected arrangements,” the page states. “His and his family’s religious beliefs do not allow for cremation, so his relatives are trying to find ways to raise the money to have him transported from Steamboat Springs, Colorado, for the funeral and final arrangements in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Additionally, the family is working to get his mother travel arrangements from Kenya to be able to attend his funeral.”

The page set a fundraising goal of $5,000 and had commitments of $5,200 by Tuesday evening.

“Those who knew David knew him to be a kind and positive person,” Arington wrote on the Go Fund Me page. “He was excited to explore and learn.”

Though only with the park a short time, Arington said Mutabazi’s enthusiasm and helpfulness quickly endeared him to his co-workers.

“David’s strong faith and desire to help others made a positive impact on many in his life,” she added. “While he was with us at Steamboat Lake only since May, he quickly became a part of the CPW family. We know that he had many ‘families’ anywhere he was. We hope that his friends and family can come together to support him, his uncle and mother in this time of need.”

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

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