River proves tough | PostIndependent.com

River proves tough

Post Independent Photo/Kelley Cox Garfield County Sheriff deputy Jesse Burris keeps watch along the Colorado River east of No Name after two separate rafting incidents occurred Tuesday morning.

Willie Blanco often carries a long rope in the back of his orange truck when he’s working along the Colorado River. Tuesday that rope would have come in handy.The Glenwood Springs Fire and Garfield County Sheriff’s departments responded to two late morning calls that commercial rafts had flipped on the Colorado River through Glenwood Canyon. Several of the rafts’ crew members had to swim to safety; no one was injured. About 7 p.m., GSFD responded to a third call of a rafting incident, but no details were available at press time.”Many times, when I’m on the bike path, I take a rope with me in case I need to save someone, but today I was on the tractor,” said Blanco, a Colorado Department of Transportation employee who was on the job when the second boat capsized. “In six years, this is the first time I’ve seen an accident. I tried to help the people on the sides of the river.” Blanco was sweeping and trimming grass along the bike path that runs parallel to the river stretch between Grizzly Creek and No Name when he saw a commercial raft stall on a large rock and overturn.

“Two people were in the water, and I saw a lady in the river. She was face-up and she moved, but not very much,” Blanco said. “I wasn’t prepared to see somebody in the river.”Jim Sears, emergency operations commander for the Garfield County Sheriff’s Department, said the incidents did not require professional rescue.”There were people in the water, but they all self-rescued,” Sears said. “They self-rescued the female party. The fire department was there and they did contact her later, and she’s fine.”Pete Bradshaw, public information officer for the GSFD, confirmed that two rafts, including one operated by Nova Guides of Vail, overturned Tuesday morning and that no one was hurt. Nova Guides declined to comment.

“The second boat overturned upriver of No Name. The swimmers were all located by the rafting company.” he said. “The female did not suffer injuries.”Bradshaw said the river running through Glenwood Canyon was busy coming off the Fourth of July holiday weekend. While not running at peak flow level, the Shoshone section of the Colorado River near Dotsero remained around 3,700 cubic feet per second Tuesday. The river peaked at more than 7,200 cfs earlier this season.”There were a lot of people on the river today. The water has remained pretty high – higher than we’ve seen in years,” he said.Blanco said he hoped the female swimmer he saw in the water was not hurt.

“Hopefully she’s OK,” he said.Contact April E. Clark: 945-8515, ext. 518aclark@postindependent.com

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