RANCHO DEL RIO, Colo. (CBS4) – A woman in her early 30’s drowned in a rafting accident Monday afternoon on the Upper Colorado River.
A spokesperson with the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office confirmed the fatal incident occurred just before 4 p.m. in an area of the river bordering Eagle and Grand counties. Both counties sent rescuers to the scene.
The incident took place in a section of river called “Boneyard Rapid.” The woman was part of a large private group in several rafts and kayaks. The craft the woman riding in became high-centered on an already abandoned raft that was pinned on a rock.
That abandoned raft had been there “for several days,” according to Eagle County’s Amber Barrett.
The collision forced the woman’s raft to fold or “taco,” in rafting terminology.
The people on board the raft were able to safely swim ashore, but once there realized a member of their party was missing.
Once rescuers arrived, the abandoned raft was dislodged from the rock. In turn, the second raft also was freed.
The woman’s body surfaced shortly after.
She did not respond to efforts to revive her.
Barrett says the woman was wearing a flotation device, but it was described by officials as “inadequate.” Specific details were not available. It was also not known if she drowned inside the compromised raft or in the water underneath it.
The second raft was pinned in place for an hour.
The woman’s identity will be released by the Eagle County Coroner. She was reportedly from Edwards, Colorado.
Eagle County concluded its press release with advice to whitewater recreationists: “The Eagle County Sheriff’s Office wants to urgently remind the community and our river enthusiasts to stay safe when playing in and near the river. Spring and summer brings warmer temperatures, snow melt, run off and high water in all our mountain streams and rivers. The dangers of high water run off can be fatal as debris and river conditions change daily. It is important to be prepared, alert and familiar with proper safety equipment and how to rescue yourself and others when recreating in high water areas.
Along with high water concerns, boaters can often be separated from their boat and swept downstream. While rescue efforts are focused on the life of a boater, often an unoccupied boat that continues to float downstream can create a scare to the community and first responders. If a boater’s life becomes in danger, please call 911 immediately and do not put another’s life at risk to rescue when first responders are trained and equipped for these incidents.”