By Karen Morfitt
GOLDEN, Colo. (CBS4)– One man saves the life of a little girl in the rushing water of a popular spot to cool off in the summer, a sign of how quickly things can get dangerous.
When it comes to Clear Creek in Golden, James Murray has seen it all. Living nearby the banks of the popular creek, he has become sort of an unofficial lifeguard.
“It’s mostly families and people wanting to do things with their children,” he said.
On Wednesday afternoon, he jumped into action when a little girl and her mother went from upright to underwater in an instant.
“You could just see the top of her helmet bobbing left and right and I knew I had to get her out,” Murray said.
A witness captured cell phone video of him pulling the child to safety.
“Once I got a hold of her she just turns and clasps onto you like iron, like she’s not letting go, and then I swim as fast as I can to the side,” he said.
A few weeks ago, Murray found himself in similar situation, pulling an adult man from the water.
According to the City of Golden, the 45-year-old man was swimming in Clear Creek with his family near Tunnel 1 off Highway 6.
Witnesses told investigators the man had been using a rope tied around his waist but at some point took it off and was free swimming.
The family lost sight of the man. Nearly 30 minutes later, his body was recovered at the kayak park.
“I dived into the wave and I grabbed him by the time I got him out, he was already gone,” Murray said.
We also witnessed a woman visiting Golden lose her tube after a strong current knocked her off and then pulled her under the water.
“I had a hard time getting to the surface and I’m not an expert swimmer but I can hold my own and I couldn’t get to the surface i had to grab a rock and pull myself up,“ she said.
Hers is the exact situation Murray wants to keep from happening again.
He is calling for better messaging about the dangers but also more responsibility from those planning to spend their summer in the water.
“It all comes down to the awareness.” Murray said.
Karen Morfitt joined the CBS4 team as a reporter in 2013. She covers a variety of stories in and around the Denver metro area. Connect with her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter @karenmorfitt or email her tips.