FREMONT COUNTY, Colo. (KKTV) - Officials are asking the public to continue to keep their eyes peeled for any sign of a Colorado Springs man who went missing in the Arkansas River while searching for treasure late last month.
Wednesday, the Fremont County Sheriff's Office updated the public on a multi-agency search that took place on July 26. Fremont County Search and Rescue alongside multiple other agencies scoured a 28-mile stretch of the river for 31-year-old Eric Ashby. The search included drones, two scent-dog teams and a spotting team on the Royal Gorge Scenic Railway tour train. Despite the search efforts, nothing was found. Other search efforts have included helicopter support and commercial rafting companies.
The Fremont County Sheriff's Office said earlier in July that they believed the body of Eric Ashby was still in the water, and if he had drowned, may resurface sometime in the future.
"This is a 28+ mile stretch of river from Sunshine Falls to the Pueblo County line. In our area of the Arkansas, drowning subjects come back to the surface in the two to three week range, unless they are entrapped," the sheriff's office said in a Facebook post Monday.
On June 28, Fremont County sheriff's deputies received a report of a possible accident on the Arkansas River in the area of Sunshine Falls near Fremont County Road 61. The person said he saw a raft flip and several people went into the river. The person went on to say that all but one of the rafters made it to shore. The person who called was not part of the group and only witnessed the raft flip from a distance.
Deputies along with Cañon City Fire and Colorado Parks Officers responded to the area.
By the time first responders got to the scene, no one was there.
Search and Rescue teams used a helicopter and searched the river downstream to the Pink House recreation center until dark with nothing found. No one besides the first caller ever called to report a river accident or missing rafter.
On July 8, deputies received a phone call from family wanting to report Eric Ashby, 31, of Colorado Springs, missing after receiving information from friends that he was in a river accident on June 28.
After further investigation and information, the sheriff's office believe the call on June 28 is tied to Ashby.
Ashby was not wearing a life vest or helmet at the time of the river accident.
Ashby's sister, Lisa Albritton, has set up a GoFundMe account hoping the public can help with search efforts. She lives in Florida and hopes to get a search party together in Colorado. Click here to donate.
Albritton doesn't understand why someone who was with her brother didn't call 911 right away. Ten days had gone by since the raft allegedly flipped before her dad in Tennessee was told what happened by a friend. That's when Albritton's dad called to report Ashby was missing.
Ashby's family believes it was a hunt for treasure that lured him and some friends onto the raft in Fremont County. Lisa says this isn't the first time her brother has tried to find a multi-million dollar treasure. The treasure was reportedly hidden years ago by a man who wanted to create a mystery.
"He's tried multiple times," said Lisa. "But as far as I know, this is the first time that he's tried to do this without notifying anyone."
Other friends of Ashby are confused and angry over his disappearance.
"We have no information to go on. Where on the Arkansas River it happened, we don't know," said Bridget Seritt. "We're having a very difficult time trying to get all of those answers."
The Fremont County Sheriff's Office says they only received one report of the raft flipping on June 28, and didn't receive a report of a missing person along the river that day.
"I cannot express how much this hurt me, having my little brother somewhere and I don't know where's he's at," Albritton said.
Anyone with info is asked to call Detective Jenkins at 719-276-5556 or Fremont County Crime Stoppers at 719-275-STOP