One dead, one rescued after huge midnight search of South Platte River in Denver

The South Platte swells beneath Globeville Landing Park from a spring storm, May 18, 2017. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

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Two men were seen entering the South Platte River in Confluence Park at about midnight on Monday, setting off an hour-long rescue operation across miles of the river. One of the men survived, but one was reported dead after he was found in the river.

“They were witnessed to have gone in the river. We don’t know if it was intentional or unintentional, but there was a credible report that put us into an aggressive search of that stretch of river,” said Capt. Greg Pixley of the Denver Fire Department.

The initial report indicated that one man entered the water to help the other. No criminal intent is suspected.

A helicopter circled overhead and teams shone spotlights from overpasses while swimmers with DFD worked their way from Confluence downstream to the Adams County border.

“We send swimmers in the water to search along the bank, adjacent to rocks. They swim along the reeds and the trees,” Pixley said.

One man was found face down near 31st Street and Arkins Court viaduct. Rescuers performed CPR, and he was taken to Denver Health, according to Pixley. He was later pronounced dead, Pixley said.

The other man was able to get out of the river on his own and ended up in a fenced-off area, Pixley said. A crew cut the fence to free him. He is 60, KDVR reported.

“It’s dangerous enough to be in swift-moving water in the daytime, let alone trying to have this type of rescue operation at night, with just a little moonlight to assist,” Pixley said.

“We were lucky that we didn’t suffer an injury from one of our firefighters … We do train for this frequently. This is something that we do, that we’re proud of our skills at.”

Further information on the two men was not immediately available.

Andrew Kenney

Author: Andrew Kenney

Andrew Kenney writes about public spaces, Denver phenomena and whatever else. He previously worked for six years as a reporter at The News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C. His most prized possession is his collection of bizarre voicemail. Leave him one at 303-502-2803, or email akenney@denverite.com.