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Stuff you can’t make up:

Clear Creek sheriff’s deputies on Thursday arrested a rafting guide for swimming to a stranded young rafter who had tumbled from his boat on Clear Creek.

Ryan Daniel Snodgrass, a 28-year-old guide with Arkansas Valley Adventures rafting company, was charged with “obstructing government operations,” said Clear Creek Sheriff Don Krueger.

“He was told not to go in the water, and he jumped in and swam over to the victim and jeopardized the rescue operation,” said Krueger, noting that his office was deciding whether to file similar charges against another guide who was at the scene just downstream of Kermitts Roadhouse on U.S. 6.

Duke Bradford, owner of Arkansas Valley Adventures, said Snodgrass did the right thing by contacting the 13-year-old Texas girl immediately and not waiting for the county’s search and rescue team to assemble ropes, rafts and rescuers.

“obstructing government operations” must be code for doing your job for you.

35 Responses to “Scum”

  1. Molon Labe Says:

    They probably just turned in their budget. One less rescue could lead to cuts.

  2. JKB Says:

    What exactly did he obstruct? The government operations of assembling ropes, rafts and rescuers was not impeded at all. Of course, his actions did make their “operations” unnecessary.

    I wonder if the Sheriff ever stopped to think how this arrest would reflect on his department.

    This just in, Man saves 13-yr old girl from raging river. Police arrest him for stealing their thunder.

    Proving that no good deed goes unpunished, the Sheriff’s department arrested a river guide moments after he pulled a scared 13-yr old girl from the raging river. While county rescue squad was untangling their ropes and trying to get up enough hot air to inflate their raft, the 28-yr old guide, trained in fast water rescue, swam over to the victim and guided her out of the river to be reunited with her worried parents. County police and rescuers were unamused as they had been out int he hot sun staging while they waited for the news media to arrive.

  3. Mikee Says:

    The law is there for a reason, to prevent the rescuers from having to rescue not one but two persons.

    Having said that, anyone trained in rescue (as the river guide was) knows that there often comes a point where the rescuer can safely, efficiently, and promptly use their own skills in swimming to approach and rescue a person in need without risk to one’s self. That the officials did not recognize this trained person’s skilled actions for what they were is silly and stupid in the extreme.

  4. The Packetman Says:

    The owner of the rafting company has it exactly right:

    ” It’s not about who is in charge. It’s about the safety of a 13-year-old girl. You are going to do everything in your power to insure the safety of your guest, and if that means in Idaho Springs you get arrested, well I guess we’ll just get arrested.”

  5. Bram Says:

    The “government operation” he interfered with was the recovery of a dead body.

  6. nk Says:

    No sane jury will convict him. No sane prosecutor will file formal charges. No sane judge will let this case go to verdict.

  7. bwm Says:

    I used to be a raft guide on Class V whitewater in West Virginia. I am trained in swift water rescue, and have more than 500 trips down class V rivers as guide, guest, and recreational paddler. I have participated in numerous whitewater rescues ranging from the mundane to life threatening. Fortunately I have never witnessed a whitewater death.

    I can’t fathom how these sheriff deputies can possibly think that this is an appropriate response to a successful rescue. I’m generally not a fan of government organizations, but I have nothing but positive things to say about the WV DNR. They would never, ever dream of responding this way to an individual making a rescue of a scared, 13 year old girl who has already been in the water for 45 minutes.

    This is simply mind boggling.

  8. Joe Mama Says:

    Cue newsflash in 3…2…1…

    “SWAT Raid on Rafters Home Goes Awry, Man/Dog slain”

  9. Andrew C Says:

    The whitewater forums have been in an uproar over this. The raft guide in question has also commented:

    The highlights: The people ordering him to not get involved were not in uniform and did not identify themselves.

    The girl had just swum through over a mile and a half of class IV-V rapids – she definitely needed to be evaluated ASAP.

    The rescuers showed a very poor understanding of the river in general and of that particular stretch of river.

    Oh, and while it is not mentioned in that post, charges are still being brought against the guide.

  10. John Says:

    Looks like Clear Creek has stepped up from just threatening samaritans to actually arresting them.

    Some years ago, there was another incident on Clear Creek very similar to this that I was involved in. A different outcome, but I was convinced then that they were under some sort of directive to be certain that no non-government persons or vehicles could be seen in any footage shot by the local media.

    …they didn’t want my bright yellow motorcycle in the money shots as the rescuers pulled a boy’s body up from the creek. Nevermind the fact that the owner of that motorcycle was the only one who actually made the effort to save the kid.

  11. workinwifdakids Says:

    If Mr. Snodgrass were a bystander who recklessly jumped into the water out of either misguided courage or seeking the limelight, then arresting and charging him would be prudent.

    bwn (comment #7) has it right, though: we can assume the rescuer was not just more proficient at swiftwater rescue, but also had an intimate knowledge of those waters than the Department could ever hope to have. If this goes to trial, the Prosecutor will have to call him to testify as an expert witness!

  12. anon Says:


  13. Don Gwinn Says:

    Don’t know that I would have charged him, when a lecture from the Sherriff might have done the job, but there’s a reason trained rescue personnel don’t want people rushing in to do the job without the equipment or training: when those unequipped or untrained people go down themselves, they become additional victims and therefore increase the size and the complexity of the rescue.

    In my EMT class, we recently watched dash-cam video from a police car. The officer was responding to a rural car crash in southern Illinois. It turned out to be a collision between a small car and a truck pulling a tank of anhydrous ammonia at a t-intersection. One of the drivers was lying on the road in the middle of the intersection. The truck and trailer were overturned in the cut ditch, and there was what looked like white smoke pouring out of the tank and blowing across the road.

    The cop had rescue, fire and ambulance coming, but he was the first on the scene. There’s clearly some sort of chemical spill blowing across the road right where the victim is lying, and the cop gets out of his seat and is then seen running toward the patient with a bag in his hand. He reaches the patient, lifts the patient’s arm, and collapses. The ammonia fog obscures him for a moment, then he can be seen. He looks like he’s lying still, but his microphone cuts in and out for long periods as his agonal breathing presses his radio against the ground.

    Fire and rescue arrive a couple of minutes later, don SCBA and turnout gear, and two use a hose to create a water barrier behind which the others reach the cop and the original patient and begin assessing both and getting backboards ready.

    The cop rushed into a dangerous scene without the equipment to do a rescue safely. He gave the patient no care and no protection. The patient waited exactly as long for rescue as he would have if the cop had set up a traffic block and relayed information to the approaching rescue personnel. The only thing that was different was that the rescue and EMS personnel had one more patient with a severe exposure to anhydrous ammonia when they arrived.

    If you’re the only one there, or the best suited, that’s one thing. But if there’s a trained and equipped rescue team on scene and you jump in ahead of them, all you’ve done is make them rescue two people instead of one unless you luck out the way this kid did. I’m glad he got lucky, but that doesn’t make it a good idea.

  14. Standard Mischief Says:

    >No sane jury will convict him. No sane prosecutor will file formal charges. No sane judge will let this case go to verdict.

    Given a jury of meatbots, weeded out from a competent jury pool by prosecutor with his skills honed, along with a judge who colludes with the executive branch, and also refuses to allow select evidence in the trial that is “irrelevant” (such as the claim above about the people ordering him to not get involved were not in uniform and did not identify themselves.), I can’t be too sure about the outcome here. Sorry.

  15. SPQR Says:

    You didn’t read the article, did you Don?

    Locally, there is going to be some organized backlash the next time this Sheriff is up for reelection.

  16. Justthisguy Says:

    As an Eagle Scout, I possess the Lifesaving merit badge. As a Christian, if I see somebody about to drown, it is my duty to save him if I can do so without just being another drowning victim. Fuck the Goddamned pigs.

  17. Paul Says:

    You have to understand, the Sheriff’s dept. are the ‘heros’, and you are the victims (or suspects.)

    To take action to save someone is to step on their hero badge!

    So see that badge… that says ‘hero’ and don’t you forget it!

  18. Britt Says:

    This is not a complex situation, IMO. You tie one end of a rope to your belt, and another to a sturdy tree, and you jump in and grab the girl.

    The authorities are making too much of this. It’s a dangerous rescue, yes, but it’s not something that requires special training. If you can tie a strong knot and swim then you’re fully capable of pulling it off.

    Now, if there were people on the scene I probably would not have jumped in, but if they were dicking around, calling for backup, making things needlessly complex, I might have gone for it. It reminds me of all the mass shootings, where police procedure is to cordon the area and call for backup, when the the actual thing they should be doing is going in and hunting for the gunman. Crouching behind cruisers while he kills people is not why I pay for police.

  19. Shootist45 Says:

    Where can I donate $20.00 for this young man’s defense or to help pay his bond?

    DAMN the authority!!!!!

  20. Sean OH Says:

    Britt, you forget the courts have ruled that cops don’t have an imperative to try and save your life. They are there for law enforcement and as long as they get the bad guy in the end, all ends well as far as the justice system is concerned.

  21. The Packetman Says:

    Where can I donate $20.00 for this young man’s defense or to help pay his bond?

    I sent a note of support using their online form, but you can send email to

    They offered to send me email if a legal defense fund needs to be set up.

    Their reply:

    Thank you so much for the email. We appreciate your words of support, and I am sure that Ryan appreciates them even more. While the charges against him have not been dropped at this point, we are hopeful that we can work with all parties to reach an amicable solution and that law enforcement will reconsider their position. We will let you know if a fund is established, as well. So far, all of our attempts to contact the sheriff to discuss the matter have received no response.

  22. Andrew C Says:

    Britt, one of the big rules in whitewater boating and rescue is to never tie yourself to anything immovable. Think of tying yourself to the back of a jetboat, jumping into the water, and being dragged at 20 mph. Now try and swim sideways while you’re doing that. There are situations in which “live bait” rescues are used – but there are people on the other end of the rope to pull the person in and the person in the water is in a properly designed rescue lifejacket with a quick release system for the line.

    Tying yourself to a rope really won’t help you get to the far side of the river, and will only create a hazard to yourself and others. You have decent odds of getting out into the current and reaching the end of the rope – then the force of the water holds you there.

    This situation definitely requires special training and experience. The thing is, the guy who got handcuffed had the most training and experience by far of any of the rescuers on scene!

  23. aczarnowski Says:

    Sheesh. Is it too much to ask for competent tyranny?

    Yes, there are laws against making yourself another victim to fish out. The only way for that to work is for law enforcers to weigh action/context against the public good at a gross level. The judicial branch is too expensive to put everything in the queue.

    This is not a situation where minutia determines the balance, this particular law enforcer has that balance wrong. He should feel the consequences like any other failure of duty.

  24. aczarnowski Says:

    He should feel the consequences like any other failure of duty.

    Ahem. I’ll purposely avoid how that is working out in practice these days…

  25. Yu-Ain Gonnano Says:

    Britt, one of the big rules in whitewater boating and rescue is to never tie yourself to anything immovable.

    Thus demonstrating why laws like this were created in the first place. To keep people who don’t know what they are doing from making things worse because they erroneously think “How hard could it be?”

    This isn’t a case of power hungry lawmakers, and trying to set up a “only the .gov can save you” dependency in the citizenry. Nothing so complicated is needed. This is simply a case of the local Sherriff being a jackass.

  26. Kim du Toit Says:

    So the takeaway message is: don’t try to be a Good Samaritan, don’t try to help anyone in need, leave everything to the authorities?

    Pass. If I have the expertise, and if the authorities haven’t got their act together, I’m going to help. If the authorities don’t like it, f**k ’em. We are a nation of citizens, not bystanders. We call those people “Europeans”.

  27. Justthisguy Says:

    Amen, Kim. Say, is yer kid’s video game blog still up? My particular perseverations don’t seem to co-incide with his, but he’s an interesting guy.

  28. B Woodman Says:

    Kim dT,
    “If I have the expertise” . . .
    There lies the heart of the matter.
    The guide had the expertise.
    If you don’t, stay back, or risk, due to ignorance and inexperience, becoming another victim to be rescued.

  29. DirtCrashr Says:

    And they let these “authorities” unionize for greater political clout, and their Union issues similar demands.

  30. Yu-Ain Gonnano Says:

    Kim dT,
    “If I have the expertise” . . .
    There lies the heart of the matter.

    Exactly. *If* you have the expertise. This guide most certainly did and good on him. If, on the other hand, you are an idiot and muck things up with your moronitude, not so much.

    If someone like Britt had tethered himself to a tree and gotten sucked under a current and drowned would we be calling him a hero or would we be giving him a Darwin Award? What if he took the little girl with him?

    I got no problem if you put your own life in danger by being stupid, but you put someone else’s life in danger by being stupid, that’s a different matter. So no, I don’t think the law is bad, in and of, itself.

    What is horrendous is a Sherriff that can’t recognize that a guy that spends most of his entire life on that river knows a hell of a lot more than the sherriff’s entire rescue squad *combined*. He should be thanking him (even if he does have to give the obligitory “but we don’t really recommend people doing it” line), not arresting him.

  31. John Smith Says:

    Can you say police corruption and abuse of power?

  32. Britt Says:

    I’m a certified lifeguard, with the waterfront and river certifications. Tying a rope around oneself is the course of action I’d follow if I was alone and the person needed immediate rescue. If others were present, obviously I’d be doing something else. I think the hazard of the rope is outweighed by the security it offers considering no one else is around.

    Plus I’m not gonna sit by and watch someone drown, even at risk to myself.

  33. Andrew C Says:

    In this case, the victim was safe on the far bank.

    In general, I’d much rather risk blowing the ferry and swimming some class IV than start out pre-entrapped. How do you expect the rope to help you? You aren’t going to be able to pull yourself up it against the current, there’s no one on shore to reel you in, and it’s 50/50 whether it pendulums you close to shore or just drowns you in the middle of the current.

  34. Scott Says:

    “If Mr. Snodgrass were a bystander who recklessly jumped into the water out of either misguided courage or seeking the limelight, then arresting and charging him would be prudent.”

    Horseshit. There is absolutely no justifiable reason that an arrest was in order. The guy could have been a blind, certifiably insane drunkard who believed he could walk on water and there is no reason that the cops should have any authority to arrest him for entering the water.

    Remember, SCOTUS has determined that the police have no legal obligation to assist you at any time. So I’ll be damned if I advocate granting the police in practice or in principle the authority to dictate who can and who cannot step up to the plate when a young girl’s life is on the line.

  35. Jake Says:

    Remember, SCOTUS has determined that the police have no legal obligation to assist you at any time.

    The same rule does not apply to the rescue and fire personnel, however. They do have an obligation to assist victims at that scene, and a reckless bystander trying to “help” can put them at greater risk when they have to rescue him, too. In that case, charges might be appropriate.

    That was not the case here. In fact, the guide was at least as qualified as any rescuer there, if not more, and would also be much more familiar with the dynamics of the river at that particular location. His judgment should have been a major part of the rescuers’ decision making process, and they should have sought his active participation from the beginning.

    It’s not about who is in charge. It’s about the safety of a 13-year-old girl.

    This. The Sheriff seems to have lost sight of the purpose of his position, and needs to be run out of town.

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