Colorado News Roundup: Colorado search and rescue fund helps pay for volunteers
SEARCH AND RESCUE
DURANGO, Colo. — Adventurists who need to be rescued in Colorado are being asked to buy a Colorado Outdoor Recreation Search and Rescue card because there is no budget for search and rescue missions and volunteers rely on that money to pay for equipment and other costs.
Last year, there were more than 1,600 search-and-rescue missions in Colorado. That’s 400 more than the year before.
The Colorado Department of Local Affairs said the cards can be purchased for $3 each by tourists and hikers. People who buy licenses, like hunters and fishermen, pay a 25-cent surcharge.
It can cost up to $2,400 an hour for a rescue helicopter, according to the Durango Herald. Ropes and harnesses have to be replaced frequently.
“Because there’s no budget for SAR (search and rescue) teams, there’s no way to fund them,” said Denise Stepto, director of communications at the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, which oversees the program. “And as the state grows in population, we have more out recreating, and we’ve had a huge tourism boost, and those folks are also having incidents.”
State officials said the funds won’t cover medical treatment or transport and are not intended for insurance purposes. People who do not buy the cards are not billed if they need help.
In southeastern Colorado, several jumpers had to be rescued at Cascade Falls. Last week, a woman was rescued from Engineer Mountain after experiencing health problems.
Ron Corkish, mission coordinator and president of La Plata County Search and Rescue, said a lot of missions involve tourists who don’t understand conditions that can sometimes be extreme in the Rocky Mountains, the Durango Herald reported.
“If you come here from Missouri, Kansas, New York City — you don’t have that expectation of weather, and how things like elevation can impact your person,” Corkish said.
Corkish has a team of about 90 volunteers who need costly training. Some of the money came from the La Plata County Sheriff’s Office.
Since the program was launched statewide in 1987, licenses and cards have raised $6.6 million. Last year, $283,100 was awarded to Colorado counties to help fund the rescue teams.
Driver accused of hitting, killing girl on bike is arrested
LONGMONT, Colo. — A driver accused of hitting and killing an 8-year-old girl who was riding her bicycle in Longmont has been arrested.
The Longmont Times-Call reports Kyle Kenneth Couch turned himself in to police Friday on a warrant listing charges that include vehicular homicide and driving under the influence of drugs.
Investigators say marijuana was in his system when he hit Peyton Knowlton in a crosswalk as she rode her bike with her stepfather May 20. She was returning from an end-of-the-school-year celebration with her fellow second-graders.
Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett says the science around marijuana intoxication is more complex than with alcohol, but he believes there is enough evidence to prove Couch was impaired.
A phone number for Couch, who has posted bail, could not be found Friday night.
Girl rescued from hot car after doors lock automatically
AURORA, Colo. — The Aurora Fire Department says a little girl is safe after they broke the window of a locked car to rescue her.
Authorities say the car doors automatically locked when the mother turned on her car engine, then got out to put the child in the back seat in a parking lot in south Aurora on Friday.
According to KMGH-TV, firefighters believe it was an accident. The woman and child were not identified.
Firefighters say the temperature in a car can rise sharply in hot weather and endanger the lives of people or pets locked inside.
Koch donors gather for weekend retreat
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Billionaire industrialist and conservative benefactor Charles Koch is hosting hundreds of the nation’s most powerful political donors this weekend in Colorado.
The exclusive gathering at the foot of the Rocky Mountains is open to donors who promise to give at least $100,000 each year to Koch-approved groups. Elected officials are expected to attend the three-day gathering as well.
The Koch network has avoided supporting Donald Trump’s presidential campaign so far, focusing its resources instead on helping the GOP maintain control of the Senate.
Charles and David Koch have hosted such gatherings of donors and politicians for years, but almost always in private. The weekend’s event includes a small number of reporters, including The Associated Press.
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