Man missing, believed drowned on Colorado |

Man missing, believed drowned on Colorado

Greg Massé & Kara K. Pearson
Post Independent Photo/Kara K. Pearson Lanny Grant, president of Garfield County Search and Rescue, looks on as three volunteers launch their raft to continue the search for a missing male in the Colorado River in Rifle Wednesday morning. The missing rafter was last seen a little before 7 p.m. Tuesday near the concrete retention wall by the Old Rifle Bridge. Grant said he thinks the rafter got caught in a whirlpool near the wall.

A 20-year-old Parachute man is believed to have drowned Tuesday evening while swimming in the Colorado River in Rifle. According to Rifle police, rescue crews were notified at 7:03 p.m. that a man was calling for help as he floated down the river without a life jacket near the old Colorado River bridge. Garfield County Search and Rescue leader Lanny Grant said the man, whom police did not identify, was taking turns floating the river on an air mattress-type device with his two brothers when he disappeared.

Grant said the brothers first went into the river around 4 p.m. They were taking turns floating on the air mattress – two would float while the third rested on the shore. Just before 7 p.m., two of the brothers floated past where the 20-year-old victim was waiting for them. Grant said the man jumped into the river to catch up with his brothers on the mattress. That’s when he was pulled under, authorities said.Grant guessed that the man might have been pulled below the surface near a retaining wall that creates unpredictable currents and vortexes in the water, which is at its highest levels of the year.

“In spite of how strong a swimmer a person is, this river is unmerciful,” Grant said, noting that the water was running at about 6,500 cubic feet per second on Tuesday. Rescue workers stood on the old bridge to try and spot the man, but he never surfaced. The search was postponed Tuesday because of darkness, and resumed Wednesday morning at daybreak. When the search resumed Wednesday, it took on a more ominous tone, as rescue workers searched the area with dogs to try and locate what they believe will be the body of the young man.

The victim of the suspected drowning is described as 5 feet 9 inches tall and 190 pounds and wearing tan shorts. Meisner said he still couldn’t release the identity of the victim because his mother hadn’t yet been notified on Wednesday.

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