Sheriff’s office seeks rescue boat
May 18, 2017
With the 1,870 square miles are roughly 23 square miles of water, the Grand County Sheriff's Office is looking for a more reliable way of responding to emergencies on the water.
Grand County's waterways are largely under the jurisdiction of the sheriff's office, though the department has no emergency response boats and in the past have been forced to rely on local citizens in emergencies.
That could be changing in the near future as the office and the Mullinex Water Rescue Fund lobby the county government and other entities to find funding for an emergency response boat.
The startling lack of water rescue equipment was brought to the forefront in 2015 with the tragic death of Grand Lake resident Christopher Mullinex.
Mullinex, who was 31 at the time, was celebrating Fourth of July weekend with friends and family on a boat in Lake Granby. He dove under the surface of the water the afternoon of July 3 and never resurfaced.
The ensuing recovery effort lasted nearly three days and highlighted the need for a patrol or recovery boat within the county.
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"The search for Chris Mullinex highlighted to us how ill prepared we were with equipment," said Lieutenant Dan Mayer Mayer, the sheriff's office spokesman who spoke to the Grand County Board of Commissioners last week about a new boat proposal.
After the accident with Mullinex, his family and friends, led by matriarch Dee Mullinex, formed an organization called the Christopher Mullinex Water Rescue Fund, focusing their efforts on water safety education and working to ensure no one else endures the tragedy they experienced.
Mayer offered high praise for the Mullinex family and especially Dee Mullinex. "She took this negative, the worst thing that could happen, and she has turned it around. She doesn't' want to ever see someone go through what she went through," Mayer said to the commissioners.
For her part, Dee Mullinex has thrown her full support behind the new boat proposal.
"I am totally for it," Dee Mullinex told Sky-Hi News on Thursday. "We have been working side by side for several months on this. The way I look at it a boat on the water is no different than an ambulance on the road or our patrol cars.
"We have so much water and so many visitors to our lakes I think it is a necessity. I hope the Commissioners se that as well."
After the death of Mullinex, the sheriff's office received a donated boat. Unfortunately the 1980s cabin cruiser and fishing vessel required a new motor and is not realistically capable of performing the functions needed in an emergency boat.
"If you are going to buy a fire engine you don't just grab an old delivery truck," Mayer explained. "You don't want an old van for an ambulance."
The office is now looking for a boat with a fiberglass or metal hull in the 21 to 25 foot range, with enough space to outfit it for transporting EMS personnel and space for any family that goes into the water.
The department is looking at a Boston Whaler Guardian and will also need to purchase a trailer to transport the boat as needed.
"We aren't coming here asking you to write a check for $120,000," Mayer said to commissioners. "We are here to work with the Commissioners and the County Manager to put this together somehow.
"This is not something any one of us can foot the bill for, but through community support, and maybe corporate sponsorships, and wherever else, we can come up with it."