Rio Grande River

Rio Grande River. Photo courtesy South Fork Fire Rescue via KKTV.

A Colorado Springs woman who fell into the south fork of the Rio Grande four days ago still is being sought, Mineral County Sheriff Fred Hosselkus said Tuesday.

She was traveling with one companion Saturday on U.S. 160 over Wolf Creek Pass when they stopped along the river near mile marker 175½, Hosselkus said.

The woman, whose name has not been released, climbed onto a rock, slipped and fell in.

“The area she fell in, you don’t have a chance,” he said. “You don’t have a chance to get out. There’s no way.”

The search began Saturday evening, Hosselkus said.

Whitewater rescue experts from The Adventure Co. of Buena Vista arrived Monday to help, The South Fork Tines reported.

“The water levels that we have over here are hindering the search a little bit,” Hosselkus said. “We’re running about 1,700, 1,800 (cubic feet per second) over there, and it’s a very narrow, very violent kind of river — a lot of rocks.”

Rivers are raging at or near flood levels across Colorado, with plenty of snow yet to melt on many mountain ranges. With more runoff on the way and the rainy season approaching, many communities are bracing for floods.

Mineral County’s stretch of the Rio Grande was “closed to all vessels until further notice” June 11 for “public safety due to high volume of runoff,” the Sheriff’s Office ordered.

Also closed were East Willow Creek above Creede, three campgrounds and a road.

Although the search for the woman continues, Hosselkus said, “The river is just too much right now to put anybody in it, to go (on) dive-outs and look in different holes and different places.

“But we actually go over there every day and search different strainers that are in the river, different boulder areas, different pools, just thinking that as the water level drops, we’re going to be able to see something.

“I don’t think she made it out of the south fork of the Rio Grande into the Rio Grande. I’m hoping she didn’t, because if she ended up in the Rio Grande, then that’s a lot of river.

“I’m hoping the strainers keep her in that river to where when the water levels drop, we’ll be able to find her.”

The Sheriff’s Office posted Tuesday on Facebook:

“For the next several days response personnel will focus on high probability locations until the water levels decrease and clarity improves.”

Ellie is a general assignment reporter. She's a proud Midwesterner, stationery hoarder and Earl Grey tea enthusiast. After interning at The Gazette in 2015, she joined the newspaper's staff in 2016.

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