Skip to contents
News

Man, toddler still missing in separate incidents on Colorado’s runoff-swollen rivers

Teams searching the Colorado and Eagle rivers are fighting fast flows and low visibility as snowmelt kicks off a busy, dangerous season.

Search teams with dogs joined volunteers searching the Eagle River in Gypsum on Sunday as part of a massive effort to locate 3-year-old Sebastian Castro. (Jason Blevins, The Colorado Sun)
  • Credibility:

A man and a 3-year-old boy remain missing in Eagle County’s turbid, swollen rivers.   

Shawn Diaz, a 36-year-old from Denver, has been missing in the Upper Colorado River near Radium since May 31. And 3-year-old Sebastian Castro was last seen in an Eagle apartment complex near the Eagle River late on June 5. 

More than 500 searchers spent Saturday and Sunday crawling the banks of the Eagle River from Eagle to Dotsero, directed by more than a dozen agencies using helicopters, drones, dogs and water teams. The boy, who is severely autistic, was last seen near the Eagle Villas apartment complex playground by the rushing river Friday around 9:20 p.m. 

After discovering a phone and clothing in the Eagle River, volunteers and law enforcement focused their search for 3-year-old Sebastian Castro exclusively on the river between Eagle and Dotsero on Sunday. (Jason Blevins, The Colorado Sun)

A phone Sebastian was carrying was found by searchers in the river below the apartment complex and later in the day a team found an article of his clothing in the river farther downstream. The discoveries led to an intense focus on the river on Monday, with multiple boats teams and thermal drones scanning the icy water.

The Eagle River just below Gypsum peaked near 3,300 cubic-feet-per-second on June 2 and was below 2,500 cfs on Monday

Sebastian Castro was last seen around the Eagle Villas Apartments on June 5. (Provided by Eagle County)

Diaz was last seen floating unresponsive and underwater next to an inner tube above the Upper Colorado River’s Eye of the Needle rapid near Radium.

He was not wearing a life jacket. The initial call from people on the bank went to Summit County’s search and rescue teams, which handed off the search mission to Grand County’s search and rescue crews.

After searching the river late on May 31, crews returned the next day with drones and distributed flyers and interviewed rafters and paddlers taking out below the Radium stretch in Eagle County. Grand County’s sheriff identified Diaz last week, after the search was suspended. 

The Colorado River in Eagle County peaked above 4,000 cfs on June 1 and June 2 and steadily dropped to around 2,200 cfs by Monday.   

On May 16, Eagle River Fire Protection District rescuers responded to a solo kayaker pulled from the Eagle River below Dowd Chute by fishermen who conducted resuscitation efforts on the man.

The man, who has not been identified but was described as in his 20s, was flown to a Denver-area hospital. A district spokeswoman said the man remained in critical condition in late May, but she had not checked his status since.

A well-known Pueblo businessman, 53-year-old Michael Roumph, died Friday after he was thrown from a private raft in the Narrows Rapid in the Arkansas River’s Royal Gorge. Roumph also was a volunteer assistant wrestling coach at Colorado State University Pueblo.

Last year’s much larger runoff saw a spike in drownings, starting June 6 when a raft on the surging Eagle River flipped, sending 29-year-old Nikolay Pezhemskiy into the river. By mid-August last summer, more than 22 people had drowned in Colorado’s waterways, far higher than the annual average of around 12 fatalities. 

Rising Sun