Glenwood Springs man drowns in hunting accident |

Glenwood Springs man drowns in hunting accident

Lynn Burton

A Glenwood Springs baseball coach fell through the ice and drowned in a lake near Delta Wednesday morning while hunting waterfowl with his son and a friend.

Jeffrey Zerbato, 39, was pronounced dead at Delta County Memorial Hospital at 10:50 a.m. Wednesday, said Delta County Deputy Coroner Kevin Lucy.

Zerbato was hunting at Sweitzer Lake with Carbondale resident Richard Beiser, and the accident was reported at 8:50 a.m., according to a Delta County sheriff’s report. Delta County Sheriff-elect Fred McKee was not available for comment.

The 70-acre Sweitzer Lake is part of the Colorado State Parks system, and is located a mile east of Highway 50, approximately two miles south of Delta.

Park manager Steve Werner said the lake is about two-thirds covered with ice. “But it’s pretty soft. … It’s not safe,” Werner said.

Zerbato ventured out on the thin ice to retrieve a dog when the ice broke, said Shannon Tortorella, spokeswoman for Colorado State Parks.

“There were warning signs up regarding unsafe ice,” Tortorella said. “The case is still under investigation. A lot of things are still unclear.”

Beiser and Zerbato’s son also fell through the ice, but escaped to safety. They were treated for hypothermia and released from Delta County Memorial Hospital, Tortorella said.

The Delta County Sheriff’s Department, Delta police, and Delta County Search and Rescue responded to the emergency call. Lucy estimated Zerbato was underwater for about 20 minutes.

Delta County Search and Rescue personnel were not available for comment.

Glenwood Springs resident Cici Kinney said she knew Zerbato for five years.

Zerbato also coached a youth baseball all-star team, and in the Triple Crown baseball program, said Kinney, whose 13-year-old son was on one of Zerbato’s teams.

“He was one of the greatest coaches,” Kinney said. “He was great with kids. He took the Triple Crown team to towns all over Colorado.”

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