• The incident happened Sunday afternoon at Lake Pueblo State Park.
  • Gusty winds churned up heavy waves.
  • Two victims were recovered, while the child was airlifted to a hospital.

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A young child was hospitalized and two people killed, including at least one who rushed in to help, after three kayaks capsized in high winds and waves Sunday at Lake Pueblo State Park in southern Colorado.

W​itnesses said a kayak carrying an adult and a small child overturned as winds gusting over 35 mph churned up heavy waves on the lake, according to a news release from Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Two other kayakers in separate boats rushed to assist and also ended up in the water. The lake is just west of the town of Pueblo.

A rescue operation was launched after someone called for help at about 3:23 p.m. local time, reporting four people in the water. The child, described as a toddler in obvious distress, was pulled from the water by a ranger who performed CPR. T​he child was airlifted to a hospital about 20 miles north in Colorado Springs.

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Rescuers found one of the deceased adults in the water, while the other was discovered a few hours later by an underwater drone in water about 20 feet deep.

T​he drone was used because weather conditions made the water too rough for a traditional search.

A​ wind gust of 51 mph was recorded in Pueblo Sunday, according to the National Weather Service. High wind warnings were issued across the region. Outside temperatures in the area ranged from a low of 42 to a high of 73.

The deaths are the seventh and eighth this year related to water at Lake Pueblo. Five other people drowned and one was killed in a boating accident.

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Colorado has recorded 38 water-related fatalities statewide so far this year, nearly all from drowning.

“This is another heartbreaking tragedy and we send our deepest sympathies to the families and friends of these victims,” Park Manager Joe Stadterman said in the news release. “We continue to urge everyone to pay close attention to weather conditions and to wear life jackets when they are on or near the water so we can avoid future tragedies like today.”

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