Both river accidents involve Parachute men
Two river tragedies this week – one on the Colorado near Rifle and the other on the Crystal south of Carbondale – had one common theme: men from Parachute who weren’t wearing life jackets.Authorities believe Dale Michael Petersen, 30, of Parachute drowned in an accident, but they have yet to find his body.Petersen was pulled under the surface of the water Tuesday evening while swimming to catch up with his two brothers, ages 26 and 27, who were floating on an air mattress. Garfield County Search and Rescue member Lanny Grant, incident commander for the suspected drowning, said his crews were planning to search an area near the north end of the Old Colorado River Bridge near a concrete abutment on Thursday afternoon. “We’ve got a jet boat coming out that a member owns,” Grant said. “We’re concentrating on an area where the search dogs had scent hits.”If Petersen isn’t found, Grant said the search – which is being done by volunteer members – will intensify over the weekend when many of the members are off work.”The river work is probably the most dangerous thing we do, so we have to do it as safely as possible,” he said. Grant urged recreational river floaters, as well as anyone playing on the water, to take safety precautions. “(Wednesday) four kids were floating down and almost duplicated the incident from the night before,” he said. Fortunately the search and rescue crews were there to pull the kids to safety on the swollen river’s banks. Grant said it’s wise to wear a life jacket when working or playing around water. “We recommend that no one go alone when on or near the water,” he said. Grant also urged people to avoid alcohol while on the river and to use caution if a rescue becomes necessary. “A lot of times drowning become multiple drownings because the rescuer becomes a victim, too,” he said. “Life jackets are uncomfortable, but they’ll save your life.”Crystal River kayaker identifiedOn Thursday afternoon, Pitkin County chief deputy coroner Scott Thompson identified the kayaker found drowned on the Crystal River Wednesday.The victim was 53-year-old Les Raleigh Normandin of Parachute. Like Petersen, Normandin was not wearing a personal floatation device at the time of his death. During its investigation, the sheriff’s office found a life jacket in Normandin’s vehicle, which was parked near his intended take-out on the Crystal. Thompson reported an autopsy conducted Thursday confirmed Normandin died due to drowning.More than 35 rescuers helped look for Normandin Wednesday, who was first reported floating facedown in the river by a motorist traveling on Highway 133. His body was first spotted at 12:15 p.m., and was recovered by 2 p.m. Wednesday. Post Independent reporter Carrie Click contributed to this story. Contact Greg Massé: 945-8515, ext. firstname.lastname@example.org
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