Search suspended for suspect believed drowned in Colorado River
Glenwood Springs Post Independent
NEW CASTLE, Colorado – Authorities on Tuesday reported no luck in locating a vehicle-theft suspect believed to have drowned in the Colorado River on Monday, while attempting to avoid capture by police.
Lanny Grant, head of Garfield Search and Rescue (SAR), told the Post Independent that the search for the man has been suspended and will be resumed in the near future.
Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario confirmed the plan.
“Generally, based on the water temperature and other conditions, we wait for him to surface, assuming he isn’t stuck on something under the water that will hold him under,” Vallario said.
He said since the case began under the New Castle Police Department’s jurisdiction, that department is in charge of notifying authorities down river and attempting to identify the suspect.
Vallario said state law requires the sheriff to conduct recovery missions as part of its search and rescue functions.
“Technically, once a body is found, it is the jurisdiction of the coroner,” Vallario explained in an email to the Post Independent.
“The question remains as to who is going to ‘search’ for that dead body,” he continued. “The answer is the Sheriff does it, only because we have the broader jurisdiction and are better equipped” than local police departments.
The suspect, described as a white male 25 to 30 years old, allegedly stole a pickup truck from the parking lot of a business along Garfield County Road 335 shortly before 8 a.m. on Monday.
The suspect reportedly rolled the car soon after leaving the parking lot, and as police converged on the scene he jumped out and ran toward the river. Police said the man swam across to the north bank of the river, only to encounter more officers moving to encircle him and cut off any escape.
The man then reportedly jumped back into the river and began swimming downstream, quickly disappearing under the surface.
The suspect reportedly was wearing a T-shirt, a hooded sweatshirt and long pants.
New Castle Police Chief Chris Sadler said he and his officers had on Tuesday been sorting through the somewhat meager evidence from the case in an attempt to identify the suspect.
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Deputy Steve Hines of the Grand County Sheriff’s Office has been named as a DUI Enforcement Hero by Mothers Against Drunk Driving Colorado.