No injuries reported as crews recover abandoned raft from Eagle River
WOLCOTT — A raft apparently stolen late Saturday night and abandoned in the Eagle River caused around two dozen rescue workers and firefighters to scramble Sunday morning.
A passerby reported seeing a green and gray raft capsized and pinned on a tree in the Eagle River west of Wolcott and upstream from the Dead Cow rapid, according to a release from the Sheriff’s Office. Rescue workers did not immediately spot anyone who was killed or injured in the rushing river.
A raft with a similar description was reported stolen in that area Saturday evening. Joe Macomber, with Colorado Angling Co., said when he left the shop near Wolcott at 8 p.m. Saturday night, the raft was safely on dry land and well away from the river.
‘so far, so good’
It was gone Sunday morning, and whoever took it had to get it through a gate that was chained tightly closed and drag it down to the Eagle River to throw it in, Macomber said.
So far, it appears that no one was in the raft when it caught on a log on the north bank of the Eagle River, said Shane Connary, who coordinated Vail Mountain Rescue’s effort. The raft was upside down when it was spotted and reported by someone going by on U.S. Highway 6 between Wolcott and Eagle.
“So far, so good, and that’s the good news,” Connary said after rescue workers flipped the raft upright and no victims were found at the scene.
The initial Vail Mountain Rescue crew members had to cross the river at a bridge upriver and hike 45 minutes to reach the raft. When they couldn’t reach it safely, two other Vail Mountain Rescue members strapped on dry suits and floated down the river to reach it. It took those two almost a half hour to free the stuck raft.
10 each year
Crews chase eight to 10 abandoned boats each year, said Dan Smith with Vail Mountain Rescue.
“The initial objective is to reach the raft safely. The second is to determine if there’s a body under it,” Smith said.
If there’s no body, and rescue workers can’t get it free safely, then they’ll leave it, Smith said.
The Eagle County Sheriff’s Office said rivers are running high and urged caution, saying high water can be fatal.
An unoccupied boat that floats downstream can create concern to the community and first responders, the Sheriff’s Office said.
If an unoccupied boat or kayak is swept downstream and not recovered immediately, then call the Vail Public Safety Communications Center at their nonemergency number: 970-479-2200.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
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