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Columbine grad drowns after saving friend

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By AJ Vicens

A Columbine High School graduate died May 31 after he jumped into a pool of water to save a friend.

Stephen F. Burns II, 19, was camping with friends near the Little Dolores River near Grand Junction, according to Heather Benjamin, spokesperson for the Mesa County Sheriff's Office.

The group was in an area near the river known by locals as the "Potholes," a series of depressed areas that fill with water when the river overflows. The river is usually more like a creek, Benjamin said, but with heavy spring runoff, the river flows hard, and the pools can be deceptively deep and cold.

A friend of Burns jumped into one of the pools and couldn't get out, so Burns jumped in to save her. He was able to help her to the side, but then was pulled away by the current.

Benjamin said many people frequent the Potholes, which are usually calm little pools that hikers wade in.

"But when there is a huge amount of water gushing, the pools fill up deep, and you don't know how deep they are," Benjamin said. "The water is very cold, and that combination is just very dangerous."

Contact AJ Vicens at aj@evergreenco.com.