Search called off for man missing in Colorado River
June 3, 2010
GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Search and recovery efforts for a 21-year-old Louisiana man who fell into the Colorado River near No Name were halted Thursday afternoon about 2 p.m.
The rescue operation shifted to a recovery mission Thursday morning but, Garfield County Search and Rescue crews called off the recovery effort close to 24 hours after the man fell into the river.
“The water is too fast, too high, and too cold, to continue the recovery operation at this time. At this point the recovery is at a stand still,” said Garfield County Sheriff Office Spokeswoman Tanny McGinnis.
The search began Wednesday afternoon shortly after 3 p.m. when three men attempted to cross the Colorado River on a cable car which spans the river at the Glenwood Canyon Resort.
Glenwood Canyon Resort owner Kevin Schneider confirmed that the three men on the cable car were employees of the resort. Speaking at a press conference Thursday afternoon, he said that the men were transporting some equipment from the south side of the river to the north side when one of the men fell into the rushing water.
One eye-witness who was staying at the resort at the time of the incident, recounted the incident in an e-mail to the Post Independent. The person said that the river hit the “basket” with such force that it sent it “swinging into the air, then it crashed back into the water.”
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Two of the workers managed to make it safely to shore. Search and rescue efforts for the third man were halted at dark Wednesday night.
The name of the missing man has not been released, but Schneider said that the man’s family has been contacted.
Sheriff’s spokesman Phil Strouse said in a news release that the search teams, including 12 specialists using probing poles and three dogs scoured the shoreline and river, via rafts and a motorized watercraft, on Wednesday and for more than six hours Thursday.
“The hazardous conditions and associated effects to rescuers led to the searchers’ decision to suspend the operation at this time,” he said in the Thursday afternoon release.
Schneider said that all of the resort’s operations have been shut down due to the accident.
“We are deeply concerned for our employees and are undergoing an investigation,” he said. “All of our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of this missing person.”
The cable car is roughly 4 feet by 6 feet platform and does not have side rails. None of the men were wearing personal floatation devices, which according to Schneider, floatation devices are not standard operating procedure when using the cable car to haul equipment across the river.
The cable car has been used to haul gear and equipment across the river for close to 30 years, Schneider said.
This was the missing man’s first season working at Glenwood Canyon Resort. According to Schneider, the man began working there just this spring.
This fatal accident comes two days before the scheduled opening of the resort’s new zipline attraction, which was scheduled for this Saturday. The accident was not related in any way to the zipline, and the cable car is not part of that attraction.