A woman died after falling out of her raft Monday in the upper Colorado River above State Bridge, prompting authorities to remind the public of the high water from the spring runoff.
Just before 4 p.m., first responders from Eagle and Grand counties responded to reports of boats and people that were pinned in the “Boneyard Rapid” between Yarmony and Rancho Del Rio.
The boaters were part of a large private group from the Edwards area and had several boats and kayaks in their group. As the group approached the “Boneyard Rapid,” one boat became high-centered on an already-abandoned raft that was pinned on a rock. As the occupants of the boat began to swim out of the rapid, one female in the group became trapped.
Emergency responders quickly arrived on scene with resources and volunteers to assist witnesses and boaters with recovery efforts, a press release says. By 5 p.m., a female in her early 30s was recovered from the river and was non-responsive to CPR efforts. Her name was not released Monday.
The Eagle County Sheriff’s Office wants to urgently remind the community and river enthusiasts to stay safe when playing in and near the river. The warmer temperatures of spring and summer mean snow melt and high water in all our mountain streams and rivers, the release says.
“The dangers of high-water runoff can be fatal as debris and river conditions change daily,” it says. “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. Simply report a boat description, name and phone number so that a boat can be easily identified and returned to its owner if retrieved.
“I canoed North Star at dusk a couple of evenings ago, and it was like a zoo,” he said of the wildlife bonanza. Skarvan noted his business is unique in that “it’s the only one that moves people through there in canoes.”
Open space’s Hadley concurred that no commercial activity is allowed within the nature preserve outside of permitted river guides and shuttle operations. He said Pitkin County had issued permits to seven other operators: Shaboomee, Aspen Whitewater, Elk Mountain Expeditions, Blazing Adventures, Aspen Kayak and SUP, Ajax Adventure Camp, and Aspen Bike Rentals.