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Colorado teen rescues and resuscitates friend caught in a freezing river, credits CPR training

Sawyer McKenney, left, and Colt Sutherlin hike in ice caves near the Grottos Day Use Area on June 18. Minutes later, McKenney narrowly survived a fall into the Roaring Fork River.
Caden Howe
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Courtesy Photo
Sawyer McKenney, left, and Colt Sutherlin hike in ice caves near the Grottos Day Use Area on June 18. Minutes later, McKenney narrowly survived a fall into the Roaring Fork River.
Caden Howe, in front of Aspen Public Radio, on August 5, 2022. He told the story of saving his friend Sawyer McKenney from the Roaring Fork River near the Grottos Day Use Area on June 18,  2022. Howe is now preparing to study at Lindenwood University in Missouri this fall.
Halle Zander
/
Aspen Public Radio
Caden Howe, in front of Aspen Public Radio, on August 5, 2022. He told the story of saving his friend Sawyer McKenney from the Roaring Fork River near the Grottos Day Use Area on June 18, 2022. Howe is now preparing to study at Lindenwood University in Missouri this fall.

Recent high school graduates Sawyer McKenney and Caden Howe, along with 12-year-old Colt Sutherlin are Roaring Fork Valley locals.

McKenney, 17, and Howe, 18, have been friends since they were in ninth grade and played rugby together at Glenwood Springs High School.

On June 18, the trio narrowly escaped tragedy at the Cascades, a beautiful and sometimes deadly series of waterfalls at the Grottos Day Use Area, where ice-cold water in the Roaring Fork River flows over slick rock.

 Visitors of the Grottos Day Use Area sit alongside the Cascades, a series of waterfalls and pools near Independence Pass on July 30, 2008. Sawyer McKenney fell into the water on June 18, 2022 on the right side of the upper waterfall.
Brent Gardner-Smith
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Aspen Public Radio
Visitors of the Grottos Day Use Area sit alongside the Cascades, a series of waterfalls and pools near Independence Pass on July 30, 2008. Sawyer McKenney fell into the water on June 18, 2022 on the right side of the upper waterfall.

The Cascades is a series of waterfalls in the Grottos Day Use Area off of Independence Pass. Visitors on July 30, 2008 sit near a slippery spot where Sawyer McKenney fell into the water on June 18, 2022.
Brent Gardner-Smith
/
Aspen Public Radio
The Cascades is a series of waterfalls in the Grottos Day Use Area off of Independence Pass. Visitors on July 30, 2008 sit near a slippery spot where Sawyer McKenney fell into the water on June 18, 2022.

After Howe resuscitated McKenney, they walked back to the parking lot of the Grottos Day Use Area to meet first responders.

Firefighters with the Aspen Fire Protection District provided aid to the boys and then McKenney was transported to Aspen Valley Hospital.

Responding firefighters said credit for the save goes to Howe, who provided lifesaving CPR to his friend before they arrived.

McKenney has recovered and is now attending college at University of Texas at Austin.

Officials at AFPD honored Howe and Sutherlin at the downtown Aspen fire station last month.

The department is now developing CPR and Stop the Bleed training for age-appropriate school students so that more kids can be equipped for similar situations.

Copyright 2022 Aspen Public Radio . To see more, visit Aspen Public Radio.

Halle Zander