One float down river is enough, woman says

Rafter rescued from sandbar near 29 Road bridge

LE ROY STANDISH/The Daily Sentinel
Cassandra Anstaett, 19, wearing red in the middle, watches her boyfriend deflate a raft after she was rescued Sunday from the Colorado River near 29 Road. Anstaett, her boyfriend, Eddie Spino, 19, and another couple set their rafts in the river at Corn Lake at 32 Road. Anstaett’s raft later separated from the group and flipped in rapids, leaving her struggling until she found footing on a sandbar.

After an hour standing in the frigid, rushing water of the Colorado River, 19-year-old Cassandra Anstaett was rescued.

Grand Junction firefighters and Mesa County sheriff’s deputies rushed to save Anstaett when alerted to her predicament around 12:15 p.m.

“This was my first time rafting,” Anstaett said shortly after rescue. “Never again.”

Anstaett was with her boyfriend, Eddie Spino, 19, and another young couple when they set into the river at Corn Lake at 32 Road, each in his or her own raft. A half hour later, Anstaett became separated from the group and stranded on a sandbar. The rafters did not have their life vests, as they had forgotten them in their car, they said.

“I tried to swim, but the current was too strong, and I couldn’t breathe,” she said. “Thank God my knee hit a sandbar.”

She knew then she could stand up.

Her friends had a cell phone, but the area they were in had no cell phone reception. They had to scramble up the riverbank to call 911. Rescue personnel soon arrived and managed to pull Anstaett from the river.

She was not injured but did receive a fair number of mosquito bites while awaiting rescue, she said.

Her boyfriend said the group was heading down river when they came upon the remnants of a fallen tree.

“There was a stump that split us,” Spino said.

The group was also heading into a small section of rapids. When her raft flipped, Anstaett said she feared for her life.

“I cried, I screamed really bad,” she said.

After she found footing on the sandbar and calmed down, she waved to motorists passing on the 29 Road bridge for help.

“I don’t think they knew what was going on,” Anstaett said. “They just waved back.”

After the ordeal was over, the rescuers had left and the rafts were deflated, all four sat on the side of 29 Road waiting for a ride. Spino was asked whether it was all worth it.

“Yeah,” he said with a face soaked with sweat and river water, “it was worth it.”


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