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Two tubing rescues in a day in Boulder County, tubing banned at the Saint Vrain creeks and river

Man dies while tubing in Colorado; 3rd death in a week
Posted at 2:46 PM, Jun 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-14 12:07:16-04

BOULDER, Colo. – Two tubing rescues in Boulder County Sunday left at least one person injured, according to the sheriff’s office.

The first one happened approximately at 12:40 p.m. and involved two 10-year-old children who needed rescue at LaVern Johnson Park.

Deputies said the children were tubing with their father, who was waiting to catch the children downstream, when they crashed into him and knocked him down before they continued to float downstream.

One of the children fell out of her tube near the shore and was rescued by bystanders, while the other was able to make his way to the opposite side of the creek, according to a news release.

Firefighters from the Lyons Fire Protection District provided first aid to the injured child and walked to the second child and assisted him back to his family. The injured child was evaluated by paramedics and transported to a local area hospital with minor injuries.

Three hours later, Boulder County Communications was notified of approximately six to seven people who had been tubing ad who were stuck on the far side of the creek in the same location, according to the news release.

Firefighters from the same agency were again able to get to the seven people and rescue them, the sheriff’s office said. None of them suffered sustained injuries.

“Over the past week, high temperatures have increased snowmelt. As a result, creeks in Boulder County are flowing at near peak runoff levels,” the sheriff’s office said. The Boulder County Sheriff’s Office recommends conservative decision making around the water.”

The sheriff’s office said people should consider the following safety tips while recreating in or around the water:

  • Wear a Life Vest. Choose the right Personal Flotation Device (PFD). Not all life vests are the same
  • Know Conditions. Creeks in Boulder County are filled with melted snow – the are always cold. People can easily experience hypothermia in the water. Always check weather and river conditions. Plan your put-in and take-out points. Certain areas can be incredibly dangerous.
  • Float Sober. The unpredictability and variety of river obstacles require your full, unimpaired attention.  
  • Show & Tell. Make sure someone not in your party knows your route and timeline. If plans change, put a note in your vehicle on the driver’s side dashboard. Write your name and number on your vessel. If you and your vessel become separated, this helps responders verify if someone is missing or in need of help. 
  • In the Water. Get on your back with feet pointing downstream. Don't stand up or try to walk out.  Swim as close to the shore as possible then crawl or scoot out to avoid entrapment in the rocky shore.
  • Reach or Throw, Don’t Go. If someone is caught in fast moving water, reach out to them or throw a rope to the person in the water. Do not attach the rope to yourself in any way or enter the water or you may also become in need of rescuing.
  • Call 911 ASAP.  Call with details about the location of the incident. Make sure someone has a waterproof phone available.
  • Stay Detached. Never tie anything to anything – including you. If you connect to something, including another tube, and encounter an obstacle, the situation can be more dangerous.

The Saint Vrain creeks and river will be closed to tubing and single chamber flotation devices, Boulder Sheriff Joe Pelle said in a news release Monday.

"The South Platte River Basin snowpack is expected to melt quickly with high temperatures forecast this week causing the creeks and river to continue to rise and exceed the Cubic Feet per Second (CFS) threshold needed for a tubing ban," Pelle said. "As of today, the Saint Vrain River was flowing at approximately 1,000 CFS."

The closure will take effect June 14, 2022 at 08 a.m. and will encompass the North Saint Vrain and Saint Vrain Creek from Apple Valley Road to North Foothills Highway. Sheriff's deputies will be posting notices and advising recreationists of the closure.

The closure includes watercraft such as single chamber rafts, single chamber belly boats, and inner tubes from floating in the creek. There is a specific exemption for kayaks and white-water canoes, which are permitted; nonetheless, kayakers are strongly encouraged to exercise caution and wear personal protection equipment including a life jacket. The sheriff is authorized to close waterways under Colorado Revised Statute (C.R.S.) 33-13-110(2)(c). Violations of the closure are a civil infraction and will result in a $100.00 fine.