16-year-old boy dies in Yampa River

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A 16-year-old boy died Saturday in the Yampa River behind the Kampgrounds of America in Craig, the victim of an apparent drowning.

Jeremy Ashton, a Moffat County Sheriff’s Office investigator, said the boy was Craig resident Shannon Wenger.

Wenger was with a group of friends who were walking through a tributary pond of the river on the Northwest Ready Mix property east of Craig, Ashton said.

He said the river’s current swept Wenger under the water.

According to a news release from the sheriff’s office, Wenger could not swim and panicked when he went into deeper water.

Wenger almost pulled one of his friends, who was trying to help him, underwater, according to the release.

Craig Fire/Rescue Chief Bill Johnston said the youths who were with Wenger called 911 after the boy became lost in the water and they were unable to locate him.

Johnston said three trucks and 14 firefighters responded to the incident about 4:41 p.m. Saturday.

Johnston said a group of firefighters trained in water rescue and the Moffat County Search and Rescue team searched the area for about two hours before finding the boy’s body.

The boy’s body was found in water about 10 feet deep. There were no attempts to resuscitate the boy.

According to the news release, there was a strong current where the river entered the area in which Wenger was found.

Johnson said the boy was not wearing a life jacket or any flotation devices at the time.

Blaine Tucker, of Mountain Air Spray, assisted with the search from his plane, but was unable to see Wenger from the air, according to the release.

Wenger’s parents were immediately notified, according to the release.

Moffat County Coroner Owen Grant arrived at the scene and took custody of the body after it was found. Grant said Sunday the apparent cause of death is drowning.

Other responding agencies were The Memorial Hospital Emergency Medical Service, Moffat County Sheriff’s Office and Moffat County Search and Rescue.

The sheriff’s office issued words of caution to people using the river.

“Drownings are most times preventable if people take simple precautions such as wearing life vests while in the water, especially in situations where a person cannot swim and is in unfamiliar waters,” the sheriff’s office reported in the news release.

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