Teller Officials Complete Investigation Into Fatal Drowning

by Rick Langenberg:



Teller County officials have concluded that no foul play occurred during a fatal boating accident at Skaguay Reservoir, outside Victor, that took the life of a 17-year-old teen from Colorado Springs last week. The name of the teen has been identified as McKenzie K. Boutin. “There was no evidence of any trauma associated with his death,” said Teller County Coroner Al Born, in an interview Monday morning. According to Born, the boy died from an apparent drowning, when a canoe he was using with a 20-year-old man, tipped over. In addition, the frigid cold waters of Skaguay, located just below the snow melt of Pikes Peak, may have played a role in the youth’s drowning. “The water was very, very cold and neither the 17-year-old boy nor the young man was wearing life jackets. That’s a bad combination.” The boat was about 200 feet from the shore when it capsized, according to Born.

The older man was able to get out of the water, and with the help of by-standers, pulled Boutin ashore before rescue crews arrived. Rescue workers from the sheriff’s office and other agencies rushed to scene. But by the time authorities arrived, the body of teen was lying on the shore, according to Teller County Sheriff Mike Ensminger. Both Boutin and other man were taken to a local hospital. “It is a very tragic incident,” said Ensminger. “His family was very well-liked.” Although the youth is from Colorado Springs, his father has strong ties in Teller County. And unfortunately, the incident represented yet another tragedy on local waters, with six people dying from accidental deaths, drowning or boating mishaps in the last several years. Still, officials don’t believe that extra safety precautions should be implemented. “We are primarily a response agency,” said Steve Steed, director of emergency management for Teller County, who coordinated the recent rescue effort at Skaguay Reservoir. He stressed that Teller authorities have no say in the safety operations of these areas, and urged recreation boaters to use good safety measures. “People have to be responsible for their own safety,” said Steed.

For the most part, the bevy of water-related fatalities occurring over the last few years have been classified as isolated incidents. Last May, a Fort Carson soldier drowned in Skaguay. The details are somewhat sketchy and speculation abounded that the soldier may have fallen into the water. Staff Sgt. Robert Shelter, 27, was pulled from the water by friends who he planned to meet at the reservoir on May 27, 2011. His friends were unable to revive Shelter after doing CPR. Last summer, another tragic death occurred at Eleven Mile Reservoir, taking the lives of a former mayoral candidate for Colorado Springs, Mitch Christiansen, and his wife Susan, an administrator for Memorial Hospital. Their motor boat reportedly capsized on the east side of the reservoir, although no one witnessed the incident. This earlier boating mishap was partially attributed to extremely dangerous conditions with winds gusting up to 40 miles per hour. And sadly enough, the Christiansens were trying out a new motor home at the park and were planning to participate in the No Name Fishing Tournament.

During another tragedy at Eleven Mile in the summer of 2010, 49-year-old Clifford Carrano of Fairplay died in a one-person tragedy after he tried to retrieve his boat and reportedly drowned, only 40 feet from the shore. Prior to these accidents, no reported drowning occurred at Eleven Mile for about 10 years. Another drowning was reported in the last several years near the shore of Burgess Lake at Spring Valley, involving the death of 30-year-old Leva B. McDonald. This incident was initially reported as quite suspicious, but no charges were ever filed.