Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario defended his office’s response to the report of a 12-year-old boy who disappeared Sunday on the Colorado River in West Glenwood Springs.
Richard Irving Buchanan, a student at Glenwood Springs Middle School, was last seen by his stepfather upstream near a bridge in South Canyon, according to the sheriff’s office. The father, Buchanan and Buchanan’s sister had been tubing on the river.
County search-and-rescue teams scoured the area Sunday evening, but didn’t resume the search until Monday at 6 p.m., says a Garfield County press release. Searchers began again Tuesday at 8 a.m.
The Post Independent reported that the family, frustrated by Monday’s effort, organized their own search party.
There were no signs of Buchanan as of Tuesday evening.
Vallario said the decision not to search Monday during the day was based on past body recovery efforts in the river.
“When people drown, their lungs fill with water and make them negatively buoyant,” Vallario said in an email. “Depending on the water temperature, which acts like a preservative, decomposition slows or speeds up.”
Based on the river temperature, the weight of clothing and other factors, searchers estimate how long before the body will begin to decompose, create gasses and eventually surface, he said.
“Until then, we can search all we want, but the victim will remain under water,” Vallario said. “It’s not an exact science, but we’ve dealt with so many drownings that we have a good idea of these dynamics. We believe that this young boy [may] surface at about 24 to 36 hours after drowning.”
Buchanan knew how to swim but was not wearing a life jacket, the Post Independent reported.
Hiker Hell "This blog is about learning from other people's mistakes, so you don't make the same ones."
Many stories of how people on hikes got into trouble- the kind of trouble that leads to searches or recoveries.