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Otero County Sheriff’s Department Makes Statement on Body Found in Arkansas River

By Betsy Barnett

July 4, 2024

It had been nearly a week since a 19-year-old La Junta man identified as Devlin Cambeul jumped into the Arkansas River at La Junta, Colorado in what is now understood to be an attempt to save a friend that was struggling in the swift and deep waters of the river. This despite not being able to swim himself, according to news reports.

On the evening of Tuesday, June 18, the OCSO released information that they had located a body in the Arkansas River at approximately 6:30 pm. Identification of the body will be made by the El Paso County Coroner.

Cambeul was identified by the Otero County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO) as approximately 5’ 7 and weighing 140-150 pounds. He was last seen wearing black Air Forces, sweatpants, a tan and white hat and no shirt when he was swept down the river away from his two friends early Wednesday morning, June 12, 2024, at approximately 3:30 am.

From Wednesday, June 12, 2024, through the weekend and into the next week the OCSO, La Junta Police Department, La Junta Fire Department, and 16th Judicial District Attorney’s Office have been the agencies working on the search.

By Tuesday, June 18, 2024, Cambeul had not been located and the community as well as the search and rescue teams were frustrated. Sheriff Mobley put out the following statement on Tuesday asking the public for patience while they worked through the search and rescue. The statement read:

Tuesday, June 18, 2024: There has been talk on various groups here in social media stating that we are not doing anything, and that is not the case. We attempted to get additional water resources to the river to assist in the search for today, but were unsuccessful.

We will be doing a helicopter search tomorrow of the river from the head gates into Bent County as long as no one is flying drones (including agency drones). If drones are being operated in the area, the aircraft will have to land and it’s operation terminated. Which we would like to avoid.

County officials have been checking on foot, by vehicle, and drones daily, just realize we are a small agency with limited personnel and even more limited resources and equipment. We are also still responding to other calls for service throughout the county.

As water levels drop, we will enhance our search as conditions and equipment limitations allow. Water levels are likely to increase soon, so we are going to exploit this opportunity as best we can.

If there is any significant update of information, you will see it right here. -Sheriff Shawn Mobley

The search continued throughout Tuesday, and it looked as if the rescue operations would have to wait another day as darkness would soon settle over the southeastern Colorado region. However, a statement came out from the OCSO at 9:40 pm on Tuesday, June 18 that a body had been located in the Arkansas River just north of the BNSF railyard and nearly three and a quarter miles from the headgates where the three boys were swimming.

It is suspected to be the body of the missing La Junta man, Devlin Cambeul, however, the deceased person was transported to the El Paso County Coroner’s Office for a positive identification as well as autopsy.

The statement from the OCSO read in full:

“June 18, 2024, at 9:40 PM. UPDATE-at approximately 18:40 this evening a body was located in the Arkansas River just north of the BNSF rail yard, about 3.14 miles from the head gates.

Otero Deputies, La Junta Fire Department, Otero Coroner, Otero Emergency Manager and members of the 16th Judicial District Attorney’s Office responded to assist in the recovery.

The deceased will be transported to the El Paso County Coroner’s office for autopsy and positive identification.”

As of this publication no further information concerning Cambeul has been released to the public.

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