Jeep Attempts to Cross Dolores River in Colorado, Fails Miserably

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Jeep Wrangler attempted to cross the Dolores River. The resulting fail was so epic, it was featured on the news and investigated by police.

On the first day of the seventh month, a video was published by a Colorado newspaper exposing Rodney Thompson, the driver, as he failed to cross the flooded Dolores river. The description of the video clarifies that the jaw-dropping plight was captured by a group of kayakers, who later sent it to the Durango Herald. According to the original story, kayakers were floating down the river when they came across a group of Jeep drivers using a winch line to illegally cross the river. The kayakers, including cameraman Aaron Edwards, were forced to pull up onshore as the winch line posed a threat to their safety.

In the video posted, it starts off without incident. The modified Jeep, which looks to be a Wrangler from the late ’80s or early ’90s, trudges the high waters without the winch line and makes it look easy. The river was full from rain, and the water was far from peaceful. But the Jeep paid no mind – it kept going. Edwards filmed diligently.

Dolores River Jeep Crossing

The tension rose with the water levels as the kayakers left on the bank grew wary. Edwards, from behind the camera, even let a curse word slip – made obvious by the beep that was edited into the video. The camera continued to record, even as Thompson’s situation became more dire. Half way through the video, Thompson was caught climbing out of his rig. By this point, any experienced off-roader’s guess would be, “Welp, the feller’s Jeep is probably hydro locked.”

For off-roaders, the term “hydro lock” is the equivalent of the boogeyman tales parents tell their children to ensure they come home before the street lights come on. It’s enough to send chills down the spine. With that said, obviously Thompson wasn’t scared enough by it, as he’d failed to check the depths before forcing his expensive machine into uncertainty.

Dolores River Jeep Fail

The rock-crawler is now more effective as a flotation device. On the opposite side of the shore, which Thompson was so close to, there were other Jeeps that were gearing and firing up to help (not as quickly as they should have been, but I digress). Thompson floats, helpless, while watching a lot of his precious cargo being swept away by the water. The video ends abruptly, leaving the fate of the driver and the vehicle unknown.

However, the story continues on the Herald’s website. Apparently, the Jeep was caught in water so deep and moving so quickly that it was deemed dangerous to try and remove. Therefore, the local police department and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) made Thompson responsible to remove the vehicle from the river when the water levels lowered. If he failed to do so, the BLM would do it at Thompson’s expense. Thompson, as well as the group he was with, was also charged for damaging vegetation due to veering from designated trails.

There are three valuable lessons to be learned from this story, folks. First, stick to the trails. It keeps public land open to the public (and therefore, off-roaders). If there are questions as to how to be a respectable off-roader, check out the resources on Tread Lighty! or Seven Principles of Leave No TraceEveryone can benefit from the information published by both organizations. Second, never ever cross water when the depth is uncertain. Use a stick, wade through it, something. The risk of hydro-lock is greater than the reward. And third, don’t be a jerk. It saves valuable time and resources.

Photo: Screenshots

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Before she was old enough to go to school, Kristen Finley spent a majority of her childhood rebuilding rusted Chevy Novas with her dad. Once high school and college came around, she was still actively rebuilding cars, though she found out she had a second greatest love: writing and photography.

Now, in her last year of college, she's pursuing a bachelor's in Journalism and Media Studies from California State University, Monterey Bay after receiving her AA in Communications. She has been writing for three years, and as her school newspaper's automotive expert, she started and solely maintained the weekly automotive section detailing posts on car care, safety tips, features, and news. She covers stories for Mustang Forums, Dodge Forum, JK-Forum and more.

Finley can be contacted at [email protected]

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