In the heart of nature’s beauty, the Colorado River is a place where adventurers seek thrill and serenity.

However, this serene landscape can turn perilous in an instant, as it did last Thursday when a family of three found themselves at the mercy of its powerful currents.

The events that unfolded on June 6th were a stark reminder of the unpredictable dangers of nature and the profound impact of timely heroism.

On that day, a 40-year-old man and his two sons, aged 8 and 10, set out on an inflatable kayak to navigate the whitewater upstream from a popular beach near Mile Marker 6 on Highway 128.

What began as an adventurous outing quickly turned into a fight for survival when their kayak flipped, plunging them into the treacherous waters of the Colorado River.

Gaar Lausman, who was enjoying his day at the beach, witnessed the accident. Without hesitation, he sprang into action, demonstrating the remarkable power of human reflex in times of crisis. Grabbing his paddleboard, he paddled furiously towards the two boys who were struggling in the water.

Two strangers save family of three from drowning in 'miracle' rescue on Colorado River

“I ended up seeing the kids floating downstream with one of the kids kind of facing down, struggling,” recalled Eric Odenthal, another witness to the incident.

Odenthal’s observation highlighted the critical situation. The 10-year-old boy was wearing a belt-pack personal flotation device (PFD) that had inflated with a CO2 cartridge, but it had turned him face down in the water, making it difficult for him to breathe.

The 8-year-old’s PFD, on the other hand, was too large and failed to keep his head above water. The river’s current was unrelenting, and the boys were in imminent danger of drowning.

Lausman reached the boys and managed to pull them onto his paddleboard. Despite his heroic efforts, the father remained out of reach, swept away by the current. At this crucial juncture, the family’s fate took another turn with the appearance of Daniel Wright, who was traveling upstream on his jet ski.

Grand County search and rescue officials later described how Wright had inadvertently passed “within a few feet” of the struggling man. The father was almost completely submerged and blended in with the high-water debris, making him nearly invisible.

But Lausman’s quick thinking and signaling directed Wright to the exact spot where the father was fighting for his life.

“It was literally a miracle. This guy showed up and started circling,” Odenthal told KSL-TV.


Wright’s timely arrival was indeed miraculous. He skillfully maneuvered his jet ski, reaching the man just as he was about to go under again, his hand raised in a desperate plea for help. Odenthal captured a photo of this dramatic moment, encapsulating the sheer intensity and relief of the rescue.

The father’s PFD had been lost when the kayak capsized, leaving him vulnerable to the river’s unforgiving flow. Wright’s intervention came at the last possible moment. With great effort, he managed to bring the father safely to shore, reuniting him with his sons.

Once on shore, the family was understandably shaken but incredibly grateful. Despite the harrowing ordeal, they declined offers for an ambulance, preferring to count their blessings and head home together. Their survival was a testament to the swift and selfless actions of two strangers who became their unexpected saviors.

Grand County Emergency Services expressed their profound gratitude to Gaar Lausman and Daniel Wright, acknowledging their crucial roles in the rescue. “Because of you, that family gets to go home,” they stated, encapsulating the impact of their heroism.

This incident on the Colorado River is a powerful reminder of the unpredictability of nature and the importance of readiness and courage. Lausman and Wright’s actions are emblematic of the best of humanity, showcasing how ordinary individuals can perform extraordinary deeds in moments of crisis.

Their story is not just about a rescue; it is about the spirit of community, the instinct to help, and the profound difference one can make in the lives of others.

As the family recovers from this terrifying experience, they have two heroes to thank for their second chance at life.

And for Lausman and Wright, their bravery on June 6th will be remembered as a day when they were indeed in the right place at the right time, proving that sometimes, saving lives is about being ready to act when it matters most.