Mullinex family works to create meaning from tragedy |

Mullinex family works to create meaning from tragedy

Lance Maggart

Few things are as profound in their impact as sudden and unexpected death.

The abrupt passing of close friends and loved ones tends to reorganize the priorities of the living, bringing into sharp focus what is essential as people work to shape some sort of meaning out of loss.

The family of Christopher Mullinex, who died in a swimming accident over the Fourth of July holiday weekend this year, are doing what they can to preserve his memory and prevent similar tragedies in the future. They have formed the Christopher Mullinex Water Rescue Fund (CMWRF), which seeks to provide personal flotation devices (PFDs) to, “our boating public who enjoy our beautiful lakes, so that everyone goes home safely”.

The CMWRF is offering free PFDs to the public. The Fund has been handing out certificates that can be redeemed for free PFDs at various functions in the county this fall. The certificates are redeemable after April 1 next year. The PFDs are being purchased using funds donated following Chris’s death.

“We have been very blessed with support from the community and our local Sheriff and Fire Departments,” stated Chris’s mother Dee Mullinex. “With the sheriff and fire departments we are striving to move forward with getting equipment and training for our water rescue and recovery. We also want to help support education on water safety for our kids and their family’s.”

Dee went on to explain the mission of the CMWRF.

“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. We are looking forward to good things to come from the terrible loss we have had to endure.”

On the afternoon of Friday July 3, 31-year-old Mullinex, a Grand Lake resident, was swimming from a pontoon boat in Lake Granby with friends. Shortly before 2 p.m. Mullinex dove beneath the surface of the water and did not reappear. Local law enforcement and civilian boat owners spent that Friday searching for Mullinex to no avail.

The next day the operation transitioned from rescue to recovery sparking a multi-day body search effort as a dive team from Summit County was called in to help. Civilian boat owners aided law enforcement in search efforts throughout the weekend, utilizing personal SONAR devices in the hunt.

““We realized that Chris would have been one of those people out there in a boat searching for a stranger for four days,” said Chris’s aunt Laura Summers. “Something needed to be done in his honor.”

The CMWRF hopes to expand their operations in the future into other forms of community education and projects that will advance water safety. The Fund is handing out coloring books and crayons on water safety to local kids and is looking to other projects in the future involving PFDs.

“There is no catch here,” said Summers. “We just want people to be aware of how important water safety is.”

If you would like to receive a certificate for a free PFD you can send a request via email to, and put “Get a life jacket” in the subject line. Please include your name, email address, physical address, telephone number and how many PFDs you need. “We will contact people after April 1,” said Summers.

The CMWRF continues to accept monetary donations in support of their efforts. Donations can be dropped off at any Grand Mountain Bank location. Checks can be sent Grand Mountain Bank, P.O. Box 749 Grand Lake, CO in care of the Christopher Mullinex Water Rescue Fund.

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