Rescuers search for toddler lost in flood
Vail, CO Colorado
DENVER (AP) ” Rescuers in wet suits and fins searched the brown waters of the South Platte River Tuesday for a toddler swept away in his stroller and a young man who disappeared in flash flooding.
The boy’s mother had been out for her regular stroll with her son Monday evening along a bike path that follows the river downtown. A thunderstorm developed quickly, dumped more than an inch of rain and sent a torrent of water down the South Platte.
The mother, found clinging to a concrete barrier in the fast-running water, released her grip and slipped away from a rescuer when she was told her son had not been found, Fire Department spokesman Phil Champagne said. She was pulled from the river about 100 yards downstream and hospitalized.
“She … looked at the rescuer and let go of the concrete (barrier) and said she no longer wanted to live without her child,” Champagne said.
Family members identified the toddler as Jose Matthew Jauregui Jr. The mother, identified as Elsha Guel, was released from the hospital, relatives said.
Firefighters on Tuesday found a stroller 1 1/2 miles downstream, but Champagne said it wasn’t yet known if it was Jose’s.
About eight miles away, a police officer jumped into a swollen creek to try to rescue a teenager or young man but could not reach him, fire spokeswoman Heather Green said.
Fire crews pulled Officer Jairon Katz out of the swollen creek, which runs through a park. Katz was hospitalized with what appeared to be hypothermia, said police spokesman John White.
The missing teen or young man had yet to be identified Tuesday, authorities said. Firefighters said no one had stepped forward to report a missing person.
Water still overflowed part of the path alongside the South Platte as about a dozen rescuers, using metal probes, searched for the missing. Firefighters estimated the water had crested 4 feet higher along the river Monday night.
Some of Jose’s uncles and cousins walked along the river with rescuers, firefighters said. “They’re saddened. It’s bad enough losing a 2-year-old, but then not to have the body to bury,” said Assistant Fire Chief Steve Garrod.
Champagne said the woman and her son were walking on the bike path when the storm hit. Jose’s mother put him in his stroller to protect him from hail, but torrential rain pushed the stream over its banks, trapping them inside a narrow, steep-sided concrete channel with 15-foot walls.
“It becomes almost like a concrete canyon,” Champagne said.
The flood knocked the woman down and tore the stroller, with Jose inside, from her hands, Champagne said.
“That poor mother, to see her child swept away like that,” he said.
“We just want to find our baby,” said Jose’s great-aunt, Julie Guzman.