Thousands of people descended on Silverton over Fourth of July weekend, but the talk early this week wasn't of lawlessness but of a Good Samaritan.
On Saturday, 19-year-old Sean Simpson of Durango was walking east of town near the Animas River when he heard a child's cries.
"I knew something was wrong," he said in a phone interview Tuesday.
Simpson scrambled to the river's edge just as the boy was passing. Ahead was a roiling rapid.
"I knew no matter what, I had to jump and get a hold of him," Simpson said.
Five-year-old James Wilhelm had been playing near the river's edge when he got swept up in the water.
Simpson, who grew up in Durango and has been attending college in Hawaii, said the boy was blue and disoriented when he pulled him out. After vomiting water, James began crying for his mother.
For Simpson, the rescue was an emotional twist of fate. Less than an hour before, he had received news of a close friend's death by drowning in her family's pool.
"Had I not gotten the news, I wouldn't have gone on the walk," he said.
He called it a "final blessing" from his friend, Anna Schneider, of Chicago.
San Jan County Sheriff Sue Kurtz said, "If (James) hadn't been pulled out, this would have had a different ending."
She said that overall an increased law-enforcement presence in the area helped the weekend pass by free of major incidents.
"I think it turned out pretty well," she said.
She said there were several arrests and some citations for fireworks but no serious injuries over the long weekend.
The town had 14 law-enforcement officers on duty, including seven from Mesa County. Additional public lands rangers also were present.
Gilbert Archuleta, chief of the town's fire department, estimated that during the weekend about 16,000 people came to the town, which had a population of 531 in the 2000 census.
Many are drawn by the fireworks show, which Archuleta said was ranked 15th in nation, according to an AOL online poll.
Durango also escaped major incidents over the holiday this year.
Durango Police Sgt. Robert Taylor said there were 22 arrests and seven traffic accidents, none with injuries. Six people were arrested for driving under the influence.
He said it was busier than average but not exceptional.
"It was an average call load for the Fourth of July," he said.
Elsewhere in La Plata County, two crashes involving injuries were reported. Minor injuries were reported in a single-vehicle rollover Sunday evening on County Road 310 near U.S. Highway 550, said Colorado State Patrol Trooper Doug Wiersma, a spokesman for the agency.
DUI and arrest information for the La Plata County Sheriff's Office were not available.