Boyfriend of woman who died at Lake Pueblo talks about what happened

Boyfriend of kayaking victim talks about what happened. He says he was there as she tried to save someone's life.
Published: Oct. 25, 2022 at 6:16 PM MDT|Updated: Oct. 26, 2022 at 5:47 AM MDT
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - The boyfriend of one of the people who passed away at Lake Pueblo State Park spoke with KKTV 11 News about what happened Sunday afternoon.

We want to warn readers that these details might be hard to read.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife said they were called to the reservoir for three kayaks being swamped by waves and high winds. One kayak had an adult and a child, and the other two each had one adult. CPW said they found two adults dead at the lake, and the child was airlifted to a hospital in Colorado Springs. The two adults were identified by the Pueblo County coroner as 26-year-old Larry Foster and 44-year-old Catherine Dawes.

Max Blesch tells 11 News he was in the third kayak. He says Catherine was his partner of two years, and Larry was a good friend of the couple, having worked for Max before.

Max says the three of them went out with some of their children to the lake’s north shore on Sunday. They had parked and began searching for an area where the waves and wind were not bad. Max says when they arrived, it was only a little breezy.

CPW is reporting winds reached up to 45 miles per hour that day. Max says he and Catherine had stayed on the beach with the kids as Larry took his 3-year-old child out on the water once they found what they thought was a calmer area.

That’s when he says he and Catherine heard Larry calling for help. His kayak had tipped over and the waves, Max says, had grown. He says he and Catherine quickly grabbed their kayaks and set off to rescue Larry and the child. Max tells 11 News Catherine had been a police officer in Michigan and was accustomed to reacting quickly to high-stress situations.

“She’s always quick to help people; I mean, her and I didn’t even blink or hesitate,” Max said. “It was up and go, I mean, we kind of knew what needed to be done.”

He says Larry was not wearing a life jacket, but the child was, and as Max tried helping, Larry was too physically exhausted to hold himself up in the water. Max tried to get the kid, but with the waves and winds, he was unable to. He says Catherine’s kayak had also capsized in the rescue effort, and he lost sight of her as his boat also tipped over.

When authorities arrived, Max says he told them what happened once he was able to.

“I told him, ‘Leave me alone, I’m fine, just go find the kid,’” Max said.

CPW says they found the toddler needing medical attention and performed CPR to save the child. The toddler was then airlifted to a hospital. Max tells 11 News that the toddler is okay and was released from the hospital on Monday.

He says CPW was able to find Catherine right away, who was declared dead on the scene. He says it took them longer to find Larry. CPW didn’t identify the victims, but confirmed they found one of the adult victims immediately, and the other within an hour in water that was 20 feet deep.

Right now, Max says his focus is honoring Catherine, getting her cremated and sending her body to Michigan, where her family lives. She leaves behind two sons, 13 and 19 years old. He says he is also trying to adjust to life without her.

“She was my rock, I mean, she kind of help everything around the house sorted,” he said.

He adds that he and Catherine were hoping to have another kid together.

Meanwhile, Larry’s family, who describes him as their “favorite artist, a great friend, and an amazing father,” is trying to raise money to send his body home to Charlottesville. Max adds that he was working on turning his life around.

“He was changing his life, he was going from making bad decisions to a complete 180,” he said.

Larry had a child on the way.

Max says as painful as the situation is, he looks back and recognizes that the group could have done better. He says they could have worn life jackets. They could have prepared for the worst.

“You know, hindsight 2020, and I can’t change what happened, but I can definitely like, learn from it, and you know, I hope that other people do too,” he said.

Click here to donate for a GoFundMe set up to help with funeral expenses for Larry Foster.

Click here for a fundraiser benefiting the family of Catherine Dawes.