CREEDE— The search for Roberta Rodriguez, a woman from Colorado Springs who fell into the Rio Grande on June 15, has finally ended. Reports from the Mineral County Sheriff’s Department confirmed Tuesday, June 25 that the body of Rodriguez had been found.
At 10:45 a.m. search teams from Mineral County and Archuleta County and the Forest Service were successful in recovering Rodriguez’s body approximately 100 yards from where she fell in.
Roberta fell from a rock on the side of the river 10 days ago. Her fiancé tried to save her before rushing back down the canyon to call 911. Searches continued daily, although water levels sustained dangerously high levels, complicating the search effort.
“Every day Mineral County Search and Rescue has been going out to search probable locations for Roberta. Due to the recent cool weather, water levels have dropped significantly, however we are still above average from the historical norm and that has made our search difficult. The water where Roberta fell into the river remains difficult to navigate. The currents are very strong and dangerous, but now at least our search is over and the family can find peace,” said Wetherill.
Rodriguez’s family spoke with Channel 7/The Denver Channel on Sunday about their loss. Julie Rodriguez-Skufca, Roberta’s sister, stated that the family is broken. “The river hasn’t given her back yet. It’s very dangerous. It was the most dangerous part of the canyon itself.”
Roberta’s other sister, Gina Vasquez, warned of the dangers of the river stating, “Admire it from afar. There’s no chance that even a great swimmer could have gotten herself out of that. There are awesome people with big hearts just doing what they can to try to bring her home.”
“Mineral County and surrounding agencies never gave up. We were dedicated to finding Roberta, and we searched daily. We were at the mercy of the environment to make our efforts successful. The water levels are down now, but with warmer weather in the forecast, it would not have lasted long. There is still a large amount of snow left on the peaks and water levels will probably remain higher than normal until late July, early August. All we could do is hope,” said Wetherill.
The family can now put their beloved Roberta to rest.
Six people have died as a result of Colorado waters in this past few weeks. Colorado waters are dangerous and should be approached with caution at all times.
Mineral County river update
The Rio Grande from Deep Creek Road near Creede to the Wagon Wheel Gap boat launch is open to the public but rafters must exit at the boat ramp. Mineral County Sheriff Deputy Jim VanRy commented on the opening stating, “The river is open for public use, but we caution anyone who goes out to follow all restrictions; they are in place for a reason. There is not enough room between the bridges and the water for people to get through. Please use caution and follow the restrictions.”
The river is also open from the boat launch at Palisades to the Coller boat launch, but people must exit at the Coller location. For more information about river restrictions or help with specific locations, please contact the Mineral County Sheriff’s office at 719-658-2600.
Rio Grande County river update
In conjunction with the Colorado Park and Wildlife, Rio Grande County Sheriff’s Department opened the Rio Grande to public use on the morning of June 24. “The river is open from county line to county line in Rio Grande County. We urge people who go out on the river to continue to use extreme caution at this time. We have monitored the river for the past week and with water levels dropping significantly we felt it was safe to open to the public,” said Rio Grande County Sheriff Don McDonald.
“We know people have been eager to get out and enjoy the high-water levels so we are doing what we can to help get them out on the river. We will continue to monitor water levels on a regular basis and will close the river again if necessary. Please use caution and be safe,” said McDonald.