Archive for Saturday, July 7, 2001

Search for girl continues after boat capsizes

3 drowning victims already found

July 7, 2001


— A dog trained to find human remains was enlisted Friday in the search for a 6-year-old girl who has been missing since her family's overloaded boat capsized on John Martin Reservoir.

A Bent County sheriff's spokeswoman said crews aided by spotters in airplanes were still looking for Vanessa Cano, who disappeared under the water Tuesday after the four-person boat carrying her and nine other people flipped. It was apparently hit by the wake from another boat.

Three people drowned, and the man who was operating the 16-foot boat has been advised he could be charged with four counts of vehicular homicide and three counts of child abuse resulting in death.

Bent County District Attorney Gary Stork said Jose Alejandro Avila, 19, of Syracuse, Kan., made his first court appearance on Thursday and was ordered back in court Aug. 6. He was being held in lieu of $100,000 bond.

Avila's 6-month-old son, Jonathan, and mother, Angela Lara Avila, 50, drowned. Eighteen-month-old Sonia Cano also died. The reservoir spans 5,000 acres and is 40 feet deep.

None of the passengers was wearing a life jacket, officials said.

"It was a large family outing that really went bad," said Mark Stark, operations manager for the reservoir. "As far as what put the boat over, that's a mystery."

Stork said he has agreed to allow Avila to attend the funerals of his mother and son.

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