Yesterday morning, we told you that rescue operations had resumed in the search for Danny Nichols, Clancy Nichols and Wes Hawkins, who were apparently swept away in a massive Western Slope mudslide over the weekend. Now, however, the effort, led by the Mesa County Sheriff's Office, has been suspended because of the risk to those trying to find them. But the MCSO is actively trying to find another missing person: Ctormy Taylor, 23, who disappeared Monday during a rafting trip. At about 8:30 p.m. on Monday, May 27, according to the sheriff's office, Taylor and two friends were rafting in the Colorado River when their raft wrapped around a bridge piling in Grand Junction.
Taylor's two companions were able to make it to the shore of the river, but Taylor couldn't be found. He was last seen trying to swim to the bank just past the confluence of the Colorado and the Gunnison river -- the point that gives Grand Junction its name. None of the trio was wearing a life preserver.
Anyone who wishes to help search for Taylor is encouraged to phone the sheriff's office at 970-242-6707. In the meantime, here are three photos from the rescue operation, followed by a statement released by the family of Wes Hawkins. As you'll note, its written in the past tense, as he and his two companions, Danny and Clancy, are now presumed to have died in the mudslide near Collbran. Our sincere condolences to their friends, family and loved ones.
Statement by the family of Wes Hawkins:
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The family of Wesley Hawkins would like to express their gratitude to the members of the Mesa County Sheriffs's Office, Mesa County Search and Rescue, Salvation Army, Plateau Valley Fire District, CenturyLink and everyone through out the community who have expressed their sympathy, condolences and prayers in this tragic event.
We would also like everyone to know who Wesley was. Wesley worked for the Collbran Conservancy District as the District Water Manager for the last 23 years. He was responsible for much of the water that flows through the Plateau Valley area. His responsibility to the community and its safety led him to the area that the slide occurred in. He was concerned for other families and their homes should the water system be compromised. He was performing these duties when the massive slide caught him and the other men.
Wesley was a father of five wonderful children, husband of 27 years and a grandfather of a beautiful granddaughter. He was also well respected and admired within his community.
At this time we do not wish to make any other statements to the press.
Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.
More from our News archive circa May 27: "Photos: See mudslide area being searched for Danny Nichols, Clancy Nichols, Wes Hawkins."