Woman: Colorado River rescue slipped through her hands
GLENWOOD SPRINGS – A local woman who reported seeing not one, but two people floating helplessly in the Colorado River between No Name and Glenwood Springs earlier this week said she was nearly able to rescue one of the men.
“I literally had the guy by the hand, but the current pulled him away,” said Shar Padgett of No Name, one of two women who reported seeing two men floating in the river just west of the No Name tunnels late Wednesday afternoon.
“He went under, and I never saw him come back up,” said Padgett, who reported the incident along with another woman who was also on the Glenwood Canyon Bike Path in that vicinity at the time.
Padgett said she was riding her bike back to No Name from Glenwood and had just come across the interstate overpass when she stopped to talk to another woman who was running along the path.
“We were talking and this man apparently heard us and started yelling, ‘help, help,'” Padgett said. “We went over to the riverbank and saw a man holding onto a small stick in the rapids. We both started going down to help him, when we noticed another gentleman a little ways down river holding onto a tiny rock.”
The other woman went to see if she could help the second man and also called 911, while Padgett said she attempted to reach the first man.
“I went into water a little ways and braced myself on two rocks and put my hand out,” she said. “The current kept pulling, though, and he released my hand. I saw him go under, and he never came back up.”
Padgett said she was injured herself when she fell back after losing her grip and hit her head on a rock.
The other man also disappeared despite the efforts of the two women. Neither man could be found after a search that evening and most of the day on Thursday, before the Garfield County Sheriff’s Department and Garfield Search and Rescue suspended the search.
“The water was pretty cold, and they seemed pretty delirious,” Padgett said.
According to Garfield County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Phil Strouse, a Garfield County Search and Rescue, Inc. team searched the Colorado River between the No Name and New Castle areas for a person or persons based on the report.
The search was suspended after dark on Wednesday and resumed Thursday, but ended at 3 p.m. that day. Rescuers used a Maravia cataraft and motorized Zodiac raft to search the shorelines for any indications of a person, capsized vessel or abandoned fishing gear, but had no luck, Strouse said.
Sheriff’s deputies also spent the night searching neighboring rest areas for unattended vehicles and associated campsites for any missing parties, he said.
“We still have not gotten any missing person reports to this point,” Strouse said Friday. “That doesn’t mean there’s not a person still out there. We would ask that if anyone notices anything to please call the sheriff’s office.
“We would also ask that anyone out on the rivers be careful and keep an eye on each other, and to look for anything out of the ordinary,” he said. “If someone is in the river, the quicker we can get to them, the better their chances are of survival.”
Padgett said she was personally affected by the incident, and is having trouble sleeping at night thinking how close she came to rescuing one of the men.
“All I can think about is seeing them holding on for their lives,” she said, adding she intends to keep looking herself and asking around to see if anyone may be missing locally.
Authorities are asking citizens who notice anything suspicious along that stretch of the Colorado River to contact the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office at (970) 945-0453.