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Sheriff: Colorado ranger drowned in reservoir after winds

FORT COLLINS, Colo. — A Colorado ranger who drowned last week was not wearing his personal flotation device when he is believed to have been caught in strong winds on a reservoir, a county sheriff said.

Larimer County Natural Resources Ranger Brendan Unitt was found Friday morning after an extensive search of the Horsetooth Reservoir near Fort Collins, The Coloradoan reported Sunday.

A Colorado Parks and Wildlife boat found Unitt’s body in about 12 feet (3.6 meters) of water not far from where his life vest was found by search crews.

Evidence indicated the 27-year-old ranger was checking campsites on the reservoir when he received a request for assistance from other rangers concerning two boaters in distress, Larimer County Sheriff Justin Smith said.

Unexpected strong wind gusts up to 35 mph (56 kph) blew in and rangers reported hearing broken radio traffic they believe was from Unitt.

There was no further radio traffic from Unitt and he did not respond to the call to assist the distressed boaters, who were rescued by other rangers.

Rescuers located Unitt’s patrol boat on the east side of the reservoir. The search included ground crews, boats, drones and aerial support from numerous agencies.