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CPW investigating after man dies during a private boating trip on Arkansas River

arkansas river rafter drowning.jpg
Posted at 4:47 PM, Jun 26, 2023
and last updated 2023-06-26 18:47:58-04

SALIDA, CO — Colorado Parks and Wildlife is investigating the death of a man following a rafting trip Friday. CPW said in a press release that the incident occurred east of Salida on the Arkansas River. According to CPW, three people were on a rafting trip when witnesses said the boat flipped when it entered Bear Creek Rapid and threw all three into the water.

CPW says two of the rafters were able to exit the water safely, one being rescued by a patrolling ranger with CPW’s Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area (AHRA) patrolling the water.

The third rafter and the raft went missing down the river prompting search and rescue efforts from CPW and other agencies. The raft was eventually spotted 2 miles downstream near Wellsville, east of Salida, where the boater was seen entangled in the raft and unresponsive.

The person eventually separated from the raft and was found on an island near the Wellsville Bridge before being recovered and beginning life-saving efforts.

Emergency personnel attempted CPR to resuscitate the individual but the person was pronounced dead at the scene.

“Our deepest condolences got out to the family and friends of the victim,” said Tom Waters, AHRA Park Manager. He called it another tragic example of the importance of being prepared for entering challenging whitewater conditions at the peak of spring run-off from snow melt.

This marked the third confirmed death in the Arkansas River this week and the 14 water-related death across Colorado.
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