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From the Cortez Journal Denied:1up! Software ()
5/12/2009 6:00:00 AM
Capsize loses Dolores man
Authorities tentatively drop search for Vavra after canoe turns over Friday
Journal Staff Writer
A Dolores man whose canoe capsized Friday evening in the Dolores River is presumed dead after a two-day search by rescuers.
Authorities tentatively suspended their search Monday for James Vavra, 45, because of high flowing water in the river and downstream to and including McPhee Reservoir, according to Lt. Ted Meador, spokesman for the Montezuma County Sheriff's Office.
"We're assuming the body is entangled in debris within the river or the lake," Meador said. "Hopefully, when the water goes down we can make a recovery."
The canoe probably capsized upriver from the Fourth Street Bridge in Dolores at approximately 6:45 p.m. Friday. A second boater in the canoe, Tracy Sanchez, of Cortez, was found along the river bank and treated at the scene, Meador said. Sanchez did not require hospital care.
Alcohol might have been a factor in the accident, along with high water and cold water temperature. The river's water temperature is likely in the low 50s, Meador said.
The flow of the Dolores River above McPhee was listed at approximately 2,920 cubic feet per second at 6 p.m. Friday, according to Ken Curtis, an engineer with the Dolores Water Conservancy District. One cfs is equivalent to a water flow of 449 gallons per minute.
Mike Preston, general manager of the water district, said a typical flow of the Dolores River during the non-runoff season ranges between 200 and 500 cfs. On April 5, which is prior to the start of the spring runoff, the river was flowing at about 200 cfs, he said.
Meador noted that boaters, swimmers and anglers should be cautious about cold, high water in area rivers and lakes during spring, which is a peak time for snow runoff. He said alcohol consumption and boating recreation are not a good combination.
Up to 10 rescuers and sheriff's officers using four boats looked for Vavra on Saturday, Meador said. Agencies assisting in the search included the Dolores Fire Department, the local United Search and Rescue team and the sheriff's office.
Meador said rescuers did find a jacket owned by Vavra during Saturday's search. He said authorities remain optimistic about locating him alive.
"We're hopeful we can find him alive," Meador said. "Right now, we're classifying this as a potential body recovery."
Meador was able to rule out foul play regarding the boating accident.
"We're still investigating the case," Meador said, "and there's no suspicion of foul play at this time."