Jun 3, 2014 3:15 PM by Joanna Wise

Recovery efforts resume for man swept away in Arkansas River

PUEBLO, Colo.- Recovery efforts have resumed for a man who was swept away in the Arkansas River kayak course in Pueblo Monday afternoon.

A search crew took to the river at 8 a.m. Tuesday morning. They made their way downstream to the bridge at Baxter Road, thoroughly surveying one side of the river. This afternoon, the crew will return to the starting point- the Moffat walking bridge- and make their way down the river again, this time inspecting the other side.

Pueblo Assistant Fire Chief Shawn Shelton said they have come across a couple of obstacles. The water levels are high for this time of year. Shelton said the water is also murky.

Yesterday, search and rescue teams scoured the kayak course in hopes of recovering the victim. They arrived on scene around 4:30 p.m. The team had to suspend the search once when it got too dark outside.

Friends of the victim told News 5 Monday was like any other day on the Arkansas River, until their friend- the victim- fell off of an inner-tube, was pulled underneath the water and swept away by the current.

Now, they're trying to wrap their minds around this unexpected tragedy.

"You know... 5,10,15 minutes go by. I start walking down (and) I see the fire trucks," said Sonny Sanchez, one of the victim's friends. "I caught one of them as they were turning around and asked them (if he went) to the hospital, and they were like, 'we haven't gotten him yet.'"

The victim was not wearing a life jacket, something the fire department sees all too often.

"The river is very powerful. Mother nature is not something you want to mess with, and without a life jacket, you don't stand a chance," said Shelton.

Wearing a life jacket is a requirement for anyone taking part in the kayak course.

At the time the victim fell into the river, the rate of the water was flowing at over 4500 cubic feet per second. That is about 10 times what the normal flow is during "dry season."

Shelton said if search crews come up empty handed by the end of Tuesday, they will continue the recovery effort for the next few days.







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