NewsLocal News


'Admire it from afar': Family of woman missing in South Fork River warn others about raging rapids

Five people killed in river accidents in just days
Posted at 9:54 PM, Jun 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-25 14:55:29-04

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- It’s an adrenaline rush difficult for many to resist this time of year, but experts warn - Colorado’s river rapids can be deadly.

Five people have died in the past few weeks, including two on the Gunnison River on Friday – one kayaker and one paddle-boarder. And a rafter died in an accident on the San Juan River on Thursday.

And those are the confirmed fatalities.

“The river hasn’t given her back yet,” said Julie Rodriguez-Skufca of her sister, Roberta Sophia Rodriguez.

For the Rodriguez family of Colorado Springs, it’s been eight agonizing days since Roberta fell into the South Fork of the Rio Grande River in southern Colorado near the town of Creede.

“It’s very dangerous,” Rodriguez-Skufca said. “It was the most dangerous part of the canyon itself.”

Her family says Roberta slipped off a rock. Her fiance tried to save her but lost her as the rapids intensified and then raced down the mountain to call 911.

Roberta’s father, Robert, and her sisters sat down with Denver7 on Sunday, in part to thank the first responders who have worked tirelessly to find ‘Berta’ as her family calls her.

“Our family is just broken,” Rodriguez-Skufca said.

“Awesome people with big hearts just doing what they can to try to bring her home,” said Roberta’s other sister, Gina Vasquez.

The sisters also say Roberta’s case is a cautionary tale - about the high waters this year.

“Admire it from afar,” Vasquez said. “There’s no chance that even a great swimmer could have gotten herself out of that.”

And with all the moisture this past weekend and soaring temperatures in the forecast for this week, the river wild will likely become even more unpredictable.

“They had search crews of over 50 people looking for her the first few days,” Vasquez said. “The river is just so swift. Powerful, powerful water.”