Steamboat Springs — A 22-year-old man who jumped into the Yampa River overnight to evade police was found dead downriver near the Steamboat Golf Club Monday afternoon following an extensive search.
Steamboat Springs Police Chief Cory Christensen said a search team found the man’s body submerged in the river.
The man’s identity has not been released.
Routt County Search and Rescue search teams were using boats and a helicopter Monday morning as they scoured the riverbanks for the man.
The man was last seen partially submerged in the river and not actively swimming around midnight near Sleepy Bear Mobile Home Park.
Christensen said the incident started Sunday night at 11:40 p.m. when officers were called to a report of a disturbance in a downtown alley involving a man who had allegedly attempted to steal someone’s purse.
When officers arrived, they found the 22-year-old man lying on the ground in the alley near 737 Lincoln Ave. Officers labeled the man as a suspect in the attempted theft of the purse.
“He’s intoxicated. He’s somewhat uncooperative. Officers were trying to determine what was going on,” Christensen said.
The man also appeared to be injured.
After paramedics arrived to check on the man, Christensen said the man took off running.
He then jumped into the Yampa at Ninth Street near Backdoor Sports.
An officer on the riverbank was able to grab the man at 10th Street, but Christensen said the man pushed away from the officer and swam away toward the middle of the river.
An officer got into the river downstream and again tried to get to the man but was unsuccessful.
Christensen said the man was last seen swimming at 10th Street. Later, searchers saw the man partially submerged near Sleepy Bear Mobile Home Park and not swimming.
Search and rescue volunteers and police continued to search for the man until 2:20 a.m., but the search was called off until this morning due to conditions.
“It was a tough night,” Christensen said. “This has hit (our officers) pretty hard.”
Christensen said the man lived in Steamboat for about two months.
Police knew who the man was and were in contact with his parents.
“We’re keeping them apprised of what is going on with the search and trying to be as accommodating as we can,” Christensen said. “Our thoughts and prayers really go with the family right now. We know this is a difficult time.”
Agencies involved in the search for the man included the police department, the Routt County Sheriff’s Office, Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue, West Routt Fire and Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
A search and rescue volunteer said about 12 to 15 personnel were actively searching the river for the man.
Christensen encouraged anyone who sees anything suspicious on the river to call police at 970-879-1090.
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