Angler drowns in boating accident
Post Independent Staff
CARBONDALE ” An angler drowned on the Roaring Fork River Tuesday after a fishing boat hit a rock.
A local fishing guide expressed surprised at the news, saying it’s rare for an angler to die on local rivers.
“This is a shock,” said Drew Reid, manager of Roaring Fork Anglers in Glenwood Springs.
Authorities are withholding the victim’s name pending notification of kin.
The accident occurred at about 2 p.m. Tuesday, when three people were floating the river and the victim was thrown overboard after their boat hit the rock, the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office reported in a news release.
Two people made it to shore with the boat and called 911. The victim was last seen floating downstream and reportedly wasn’t wearing a life jacket, the sheriff’s office said.
The Carbondale and Basalt fire departments were called to the scene and found the victim a short distance downstream. Carbondale police assisted in recovering the victim’s body.
The sheriff’s office was not available for comment.
Reid said the last angler he can recall dying on local rivers was an older man with poor hearing who was killed when an ice dam broke in Basalt, releasing a flood of water that caught the man by surprise as he was fishing downstream. The death occurred on a Christmas Day, probably in the 1980s, he said.
Reid said fishing parties are required to wear life jackets on any commercially guided trip. Sometimes guides won’t enforce the law, but they can get ticketed and can lose points against their outfitter licenses.
The life jackets can be bulky, cumbersome and hot, and sometimes clients will refuse to wear one, Reid said. And some outfitters refuse to take on those clients, he added. He said he won’t hire guides who already have been ticketed once for failing to have their clients wear jackets and get caught violating the law again.
Private parties sometimes will forgo wearing life jackets, and Reid himself won’t wear one if the water is low, he said. But when water is higher, as it is now on the Roaring Fork, it’s important to wear them, he said.
“It’s still running high. It’s scary, that’s for sure,” Reid said. “I know a lot of people that have turned boats over, and luckily for them they were all wearing their life jackets.”
For those taking the proper precautions, it’s probably safer to fish from a boat than from shore, Reid said. He knows of three anglers who have ended up going to emergency rooms because of accidents that took place when they were wading in rivers.
“The boats are pretty safe. … That’s why this is a shock. I’m pretty surprised,” he said.
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Roaring Fork Schools were represented by robotics teams at the FIRST LEGO League state competition Dec. 7 in Denve from Glenwood Springs Middle School and Basalt Middle School.