Therapeutic Recreation Program volunteer honored for saving the life of drowning child

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Cris Barnhart, a volunteer for the City’s Therapeutic Recreation Program (TRP), was recognized this week with the Spirit of the Springs Celebration Award for saving the life of a drowning child at Prospect Lake.

It happened on July 24. Cris Barnhart was volunteering with the Therapeutic Recreation Program’s adaptive water skiing group. He heard panicked cries from the far side of Prospect Lake and quickly steered his jet ski to the opposite shore.

A small crowd had gathered. When Cris learned that a young boy was drowning, he and another person pulled the unconscious child to shore. The boy had ingested lake water. Cris didn't hesitate as he calmly and rapidly administered CPR for 10 minutes. Other TRP volunteers attended to the boy's panicked family and the growing crowd.

By the time emergency staff arrived and took over, the boy was conscious again. The first responders praised Cris for his decisive actions which ultimately saved the boy's life.

“July 24, 2019, is a day that no one at Prospect Lake will soon forget. We are grateful to share that this story had a positive outcome. Cris acted selflessly in the face of a dangerous situation, and it is with great pride and gratitude that we recognize him with a Spirit of the Springs Celebration Award,” said Mayor Suthers as he presented Cris with the award.

The Mayor’s Office welcomes the opportunity to recognize exceptional individuals and organizations within the City of Colorado Springs with a Spirit of the Springs Celebration Award. These awards are presented to recipients by the mayor or an official designee to honor them for outstanding achievements. For more information, visit

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