4 rafters rescued from Eagle River in Edwards, only 1 wearing life jacket
May 14, 2017
Edwards — At approximately 1:45 p.m. Saturday, crews responded to a report of four people on a raft pinned against a rock in the Eagle River behind The Riverwalk at Edwards.
The raft was reportedly filling with water and not all of the people aboard were wearing life jackets. Eagle River Fire Protection District’s Engine 12, Tower 15 and Battalion 7 responded, and located three men and one woman in a raft that was high-centered on a rock in the middle of the river. Only one of the rafters was wearing a life jacket.
Crews threw out life jackets and ropes to secure the raft, and succeeded in evacuating three of the raft’s occupants. The fourth person, with the assistance of fire crews and Vail Mountain Rescue water rescue technicians, was finally able to dislodge the raft from the rock and get it to shore. Everyone was out of the water by 3 p.m. Other than being wet and cold, none of the rafters were injured.
The rivers and creeks throughout Eagle County have reached or will soon be reaching peak water flows; these high waters can be extremely cold with strong undertows and opportunities for even the best and most experienced river runners to find themselves in harm’s way. Eagle River Fire Protection District recommends boaters to review the following safety guidelines before heading out:
• Wear a life jacket and proper headgear. It’s always possible to capsize in any water condition.
• Assure that your watercraft was intended for whitewater travel and understand the capabilities and limitations of the raft, kayak or other equipment you are using. Know the capabilities and limitations of your companions, as well.
• Know the water conditions. Conditions can be very different from day to day, and it’s important to know what to expect. If in doubt, then get out and scout.
Beware of strainers. Strainers are fallen trees, bridge pilings, undercut rocks or anything else that allows the current to flow through it while holding you. Strainers are deadly.
• Carry identification that includes your name, phone number, pertinent medical information and emergency contact information in a waterproof bag. You can also store your cellphone and camera in the bag. Equipment should be labeled with a name and phone number to make it easier to return lost and stolen equipment.
• Before you leave, make sure you know where you are going. It is also a good idea to tell a responsible person about plans for where you will be and when you expect to return.
• Check the weather forecast before you leave for your destination so you can pack the proper equipment. Dress appropriately for weather conditions. Carry extra clothes in a dry bag in case you flip and go for a swim. Hypothermia can be deadly.
• Never go boating or tubing while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Make sure you bring drinking water and stay hydrated.
• Plan for emergencies and carry basic first aid. Learn rescue skills necessary to assist others.
In case of non-emergency
If you lose equipment, then don’t call 911, call the non-emergency number for dispatch, 970-479-2200, with a detailed description of what piece of equipment was lost and where it was last seen. This helps ensure emergency responders are only dispatched to true rescue situations.
For more information, visit erfpd.org.