A man fell out of a commercial raft Monday afternoon on the Roaring Fork River near Woody Creek and died after losing consciousness after he struggled back to the raft.
Emergency dispatchers were told at about 3 p.m. that a rafter had fallen into the river adjacent to mile marker 37.5 on the Rio Grande Trail and CPR was being performed on the river bank. Rescuers from the Aspen Fire Department, Aspen Ambulance, Aspen Police Department, city of Aspen, Pitkin County Open Space and the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office responded.
The cause of death is unclear as neither the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office nor the Coroner’s Office have released that information. In a statement, Blazing Adventures, which was running the raft trip, said the man “succumbed to the river,” and company owner Tim McMahon said he is not sure of the exact cause. A statement is expected from the coroner today.
“While this type of event is an inherent risk of whitewater rafting, Blazing Adventures offers its sincere condolences to the gentleman’s family,” the company’s statement said.
Blazing Adventures did not release the name of the rafter, but Rick Balentine, fire chief for the Aspen Fire Department, said the man was in his 40s and was not from the area.
According to the reporting party, two men had fallen out of the raft while negotiating rapids. One of the men was able to make his way back to the raft and was reportedly in satisfactory condition.
The man who died was unable to make his way back to the raft initially. However, he was reportedly short of breath and eventually became unconscious. Rescue efforts were started shortly after that by others in the raft, who also called 911.
Once on scene rescue personnel made their way to the river bank and took over efforts to resuscitate the patient. Aspen Fire Department personnel used a rope up-haul system to raise the patient to the Rio Grande Trail. The man was taken by ambulance to Aspen Valley Hospital.