CREEDE— On Thursday afternoon, June 27, a raft containing three individuals in the Rio Grande, overturned. Two of the individuals, who remain unidentified, made it to safety, but one, Zack Jones, 33 of Creede, remains missing. The incident was reported to officials, who immediately responded with search teams in the area between Deep Creek bridge and Wagon Wheel Gap.
Mineral County Sheriff’s Department had opened the river to public use earlier in the morning after monitoring high water conditions for nearly two weeks after the river runoff had reached its peak. The incident caused the river to be closed between those two location points while search teams and several volunteers searched for Jones.
There have been several people who have lost their lives to Colorado rivers this year, including Roberta Rodriguez, whose body was found Tuesday, June 25 after crews searched for 10 days.
Jones is a local from Creede and described by many as a kind and generous person. He is married and has three children.
The Creede community has shown exponential strength in the aftermath of recent tragic events in the area. The town has pulled together, showing unwavering support to family and friends. Several local businesses have set up donation jars and an account for donations has been set up at the local Del Norte Bank branch for those who wish to give monetary support.
As search teams organized along the river during the last few days, volunteers, businesses, residents and guests have all given a helping hand whether by donating food, beverages or aiding in the search.
Search efforts continue for all missing persons with help from surrounding agencies, helicopters, drones, dogs and a dive team from South Fork Fire Rescue.
The Rio Grande opened back up to the public on June 30. Law enforcement and emergency response teams urge people to use extreme caution while out on the river and to remember that helmets are required by law.
In a statement released by Mineral County Emergency Management on June 30, “We are incredibly grateful for the overwhelming support from the community. Thank you all.”
Please continue to use extreme caution while enjoying the river this summer. Water levels are dropping on a daily basis, but that does not mean that dangerous conditions do not exist. The river may appear calm on the surface, but underneath currents, rocks and debris remain unpredictable.