Search suspended for suspect who jumped in Colorado River |

Search suspended for suspect who jumped in Colorado River

John Colson
Post Independent
Aspen, CO Colorado

NEW CASTLE, Colo. – Authorities on Tuesday reported no luck in locating a car-theft suspect believed to have drowned in the Colorado River on Monday while attempting to avoid capture by police.

Lanny Grant, head of Garfield Search and Rescue, told the Post Independent that the search for the man has been suspended and will resume in the near future.

Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario confirmed the plan.

“Generally, based on the water temperature and other conditions, we wait for him to surface, assuming he isn’t stuck on something under the water that will hold him under,” Vallario said.

He said that because the case began under the New Castle Police Department’s jurisdiction, that department is in charge of notifying authorities downriver and attempting to identify the suspect.

Vallario said state law requires the sheriff to conduct recovery missions as part of its search-and-rescue functions.

“Technically, once a body is found, it is the jurisdiction of the coroner,” Vallario explained in an email.

“The question remains as to who is going to ‘search’ for that dead body,” he continued. “The answer is the sheriff does it, only because we have the broader jurisdiction and are better equipped” than local police departments.

The suspect, described as a white man 25 to 30 years old, allegedly stole a pickup truck from the parking lot of a business along Garfield County Road 335 shortly before 8 a.m. Monday.

The suspect reportedly rolled the car soon after leaving the parking lot, and as police converged on the scene, he jumped out and ran toward the river. Police said the man swam across to the north bank of the river, only to encounter more officers moving to encircle him and cut off any escape.

The man then reportedly jumped back into the river and began swimming downstream, quickly disappearing under the surface.

The suspect reportedly was wearing a T-shirt, a hooded sweatshirt and long pants.

New Castle Police Chief Chris Sadler said he and his officers had been sorting through the somewhat meager evidence from the case on Tuesday in an attempt to identify the suspect.

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