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Search for man missing in Arkansas River suspended due to weather

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Posted at 9:11 AM, Jun 12, 2024

Update: The search has been suspended following concerns of inclement weather.

The Otero County Sheriff's Office released this statement on their Facebook.

The Otero County Sheriff's Office, La Junta Fire, and several other agencies are searching for a man who went missing in the Arkansas River on Wednesday morning.

Undersheriff, Matthew Wallace, said the call came in just before 5 a.m. for three people in trouble on the water.

According to the sheriff's office, the man is 19-year-old Devlin Cambeul.

Devlin Cambeul

They are searching for one man, but it is unknown if any other people are missing. They have requested additional air and water resources to assist in search efforts.

They are asking the public to avoid the area as emergency responders and drone pilots search the area.

Another man was rescued from the river in an unrelated incident.

"We ask folks, 'hey, stay out of the water when it's this high," said Wallace.

Dan Kirmer has been doing water rescues like this with Colorado Parks and Wildlife for 17 years. He said it takes a mental toll on him every time he gets a call.

"Not another one, it's been a lot this year, we continue to go out and respond to these all over the state, we hope that the message will get out that the river when it's a high flow, it is a dangerous place to be," said Kirmer.

Wallace said they help with about two water rescues every year.

"We try to put stuff out on social media, with the river being, I don't even know how many miles it is at this point, it's hard to post any notices since most of it goes through private property.'

Wallace tells me they rely on drones and boats for rescues when they have fast-moving water with rising water levels.

"The banks we can normally walk on most of the year are underwater at this point," said Wallace.

Kirmer tells me he has dealt with too many drownings over the years.

"Unfortunately, the past leads to pessimism in the future, so you see it over and over again and things don't necessarily look in the best manner most of the time," said Kirmer.

Kirmer's message to people is to wear life jacket on the water at all times, and to stay out during floods.

According to the Otero County Sheriff's Office, search operations were suspended around 6:30 p.m. Thursday. They say search operations will continue Friday morning, but they are continuing to investigate.

KOAA News5 will provide updates as we receive them.

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