Body found in fast-flowing Clear Creek

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. -- There are renewed warnings about dangerous water levels in Clear Creek after search and rescue teams pulled a body from the rapids Monday afternoon.

The male victim was discovered about three-quarters of a mile downstream from where a vehicle crashed into the water on Friday. It is unclear if the man is related to the vehicle.

“It could very well be associated with this car, but we’re not 100 percent sure yet until the coroner gets identification,” Colorado State Patrol trooper Nate Reid said.

Swift-water rescue teams from Golden Fire and Arvada Fire planned to fish the vehicle out of the water Monday around 2:30 p.m. when water levels are lower.

“This creek is strange. It’s fed from snowmelt so it rises about midnight, 2 in the morning and then it goes down during the day,” Golden Fire assistant chief Bob Burrell said.

When the water retreated Monday afternoon, the body was visible.

Firefighters pulled the body from the water around 1 p.m. His identity has not been released.

The water teams went ahead with the vehicle removal as planned, but were ultimately unsuccessful.

Two rescuers were supposed to take a raft to the vehicle to tie ropes around it for a tow truck to pull, but the raft never reached the car.

“We had 10 people on a rope line trying to pull that boat and we couldn’t do it,” Burrell said. “We flooded a raft, broke an anchor on it. The water is just too rough to risk our lives to try to get that vehicle.”

He estimates Clear Creek is flowing at about 1,000 cubic feet per second. While that is average for this time of year, it is still extremely dangerous.

“It’s just stronger than anybody in existence,” Burrell said.

The conditions forced Jefferson County officials to enforce restrictions for rafters. The creek is closed to single-chamber rafts and inner tubes.

Golden Fire said it could be another two weeks or more before the water will be calm enough for firefighters to make another attempt at pulling the vehicle out of the water.

In the meantime, it will stay there, serving as a reminder for drivers.

“We deal with this all the time on this road. Sometimes in the winter, sometimes in the summer. And people, whether they’re going too fast or they’re not paying attention, this is one of those roads that people have to pay attention on and this is an unfortunate reminder of that,” Reid said.