A Dove Creek man who tried and failed to cross the Dolores River in a Jeep at high water last month will likely not face any charges or citations, according to the Bureau of Land Management.
Rodney Thompson, 55, made his attempt June 29 near Tree Frog Canyon, a few miles upstream of the Slick Rock access point.
The Jeep, however, was unable to make it to the other side of the river, which was flowing about 1,400 cubic feet per second. The vehicle made it a little more than halfway before losing traction. It was then swept downstream and stuck in the river for two weeks.
In the process of becoming stuck in the river, multiple items spilled out of the vehicle into the river, including gas and other fluids, said Tyler Fouss, a law enforcement ranger for BLM. Witnesses also reported other members of Thompson’s group in Jeeps and four-wheel-drives damaging the banks of the river trying to rescue him.
But there likely won’t be any repercussions for the ordeal, Fouss said.
Thompson was driving on an existing route that crosses the Dolores River, which is doable when water levels are lower, so he can’t be cited for illegally traveling off-road, Fouss said.
A BLM resource specialist went out to the scene to see how much damage was done to the banks of the river as Thompson’s group tried to help him. Fouss said the damage wasn’t significant and was mostly done to willows that can recover quickly.
“There’s nothing really to charge on that one,” Fouss said.
The BLM could cite Thompson for littering, but officials believe the gas and other fluids had minimal impact because the river was flowing high and likely diluted any chemicals. As for the other items that spilled out, Fouss said he hasn’t been able to schedule a meeting with Thompson to find out what he was able to recover.
Thompson recovered the Jeep from the river July 13 once water levels receded. Doing so required off-road travel, but again, Fouss said, damage was minimal to the banks of the river.
“I really wouldn’t feel comfortable (charging Thompson),” Fouss said. “More than anything, we just want to stress to people: If you’re going to cross a river, make sure it’s doable.”
It was previously reported the San Miguel Sheriff’s Office also launched an investigation into the incident. Spokeswoman Susan Lily did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday morning.
Attempts to reach Thompson were unsuccessful Tuesday morning.