Tuber rescued from raging Yampa River
A man who jumped the gun on tubing season discovered just how dangerous the swift Yampa River can be Sunday evening when he found himself clinging to a tree in the middle of the frigid, raging river waiting to be rescued by emergency responders.
The man, who had been floating on a double inner tube with a friend while the river was flowing more than four times faster than the safe speed for commercial tubing operations, became separated from the tube.
He did not have a life jacket.
Bystanders found the man struggling and clinging to the tree 30 feet from the shore of the river near the D-Hole and called 911.
“He was there for probably 15 to 20 minutes until someone called, and we were able to get to him,” Deputy Fire Chief Chuck Cerasoli said.
Fire Rescue paramedics threw out a throw bag attached to a rope, but the man wasn’t able to hold on long enough to make it back to shore on the first attempt.
Cerasoli was stationed downriver and was able to throw a second throw bag to the man.
The second attempt was successful, and firefighters were able to pull the man out of the water.
“It worked out exactly like it does in our rescue training,” Cerasoli said.
The man, who is in his 20s, was taken to Yampa Valley Medical Center with hypothermic conditions.
“The big thing here is it’s not tubing season,” Cerasoli said. “There’s a time and a place for this, and this is not it.”
Cerasoli said with the Yampa running at or near peak flows from spring runoff, only experienced river users such as kayakers and rafters with proper equipment should be on the water.
“Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue would like to remind everyone that the Yampa River is flowing very quickly with the spring runoff, and it is recommended that everyone wear a life jacket,” the fire department wrote in a news release.
According to a monitoring site near the river rescue, the Yampa was running around 3,110 cubic feet per second at the time of the call.
Commercial tubing operations do not start until the river flow falls to a much slower 700 cfs.
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