Life Jacket Loaner Stations increase safety on lakes
The Fourth of July weekend is a time of great joy for Americans, a period of mostly uninhibited celebration not tinged with the solemn remembrance of Memorial Day or the bitter realization of the coming winter felt on Labor Day.
For the communities of the high Rockies it is typically a time of both great celebration and frantic work. This year’s festivities are bittersweet though; more subdued than normal as many who call the Three Lakes Region home are filled with memories of the tragic drowning of Christopher Mullinex last year on July 3.
On Friday July 3, 2015 Christopher Mullinex, 31, was boating on Granby Reservoir with friends when he dove beneath the water and never resurfaced. His body was recovered by divers several days later. The tragedy sent shockwaves through the tight-knit community of Grand Lake, where Mullinex lived, and devastated the Mullinex family.
The intervening 12 months since Christopher lost his life have seen significant changes to the area, including the development of a new Sheriff’s Dept. Boat Patrol and the establishment of the Christopher Mullinex Water Rescue Fund (CMWRF), headed by Chris’s mother Dee Mullinex and his aunt Laura Summers.
Beginning last fall the CMWRF began planning several different projects related to water and boating safety. The CMWRF seeks to preserve Christopher’s memory while working to prevent similar tragedies from occurring.
Dee Mullinex described the mission of the CMWRF saying, “Our hope for this fund is to keep water safety on the minds of everyone so all who enjoy our lakes can come home safely.”
The CMWRF has established a life jacket give away program, a life jacket loaner program and has worked actively to educate local children on the importance of boat and water safety through presentations at local schools. Dee Mullinex and others have been on hand at county functions throughout the year, passing out swag bags with small items like chap sticks and coloring books to serve as simple reminders of the importance of life jackets and water safety in general.
One of the largest projects the CMWRF has been working on is the Life Jacket Loaner Station program. Throughout the Three Lakes region at select locations the CMWRF, in conjunction with the Grand County Sheriff’s Office and with support from the Grand Lake Fire Protection District, has constructed Life Jacket Loaner Stations. Stations have already been set up in Grand Lake and near the Beacon Landing Marina on Granby Reservoir.
If you are out recreating on our lakes this holiday weekend and don’t have a life jacket please take advantage of the loaner life jackets offered by the CMWRF. The stations provide free life jackets for day use. There is no charge for using the life jackets but please make sure you return them to the loaner station to insure others have access to this important safety equipment.
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Rep. Joe Neguse is pushing to improve access and funding for public lands in Colorado and around the country.