Fatal Rafting Accident

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Dec 11, 2002
SALIDA, Colo. -- A 61-year-old rafter died Thursday when the commercial raft he was riding in hit a bridge and overturned in the Arkansas River.

The victim's name is not being released until his family can be notified.

The Woodland Park resident was with two other clients and a guide from Rocky Mountain Outdoor Center when the raft rammed into the center pier of the F Street Bridge, and dumped all four people into the water. The other three were able to climb to shore but the victim tumbled downstream for nearly a mile in rough, Class IV rapids.

Rescuers ran along the banks of the river, trying to find a good spot to recover him.

About a mile later, he was pulled onto the north shore, unresponsive, the Chaffee County Sheriff's Office said. He had a pulse and was breathing at first but soon after he was checked, he stopped breathing, Sheriff Tim Walker said.

Paramedics performed CPR and tried to revive the victim but nothing worked. He was transported to the Salida Hospital where he was pronounced dead later in the afternoon.

His cause of death has not been released.

The rafting accident occurred at 1:22 p.m., just minutes after the boat launched from a boat ramp yards away. The river was flowing at 3,720 cubic feet per second with a water temperature of 58 degrees, Walker said.

Emergency crews from Salida fire, Salida police, Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area, Chaffee County Sheriff's Office and Chaffee County Emergency Medical Service all responded to the scene.
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