Body pulled from Roaring Fork in midvalley
A man’s body was recovered from the Roaring Fork River adjacent to Willits Lane in the midvalley Sunday afternoon and authorities were trying to piece together what happened to him.
Basalt Police Chief Roderick O’Connor said the incident appeared to be an accidental drowning. The Eagle County coroner’s office was examining the body to make sure foul play wasn’t involved, O’Connor said.
It was unknown where, when and under what circumstances the man entered the river. O’Connor said the man was identified from belongings. Authorities believe he was a transient that had been in the Basalt area recently. The same man had fallen while intoxicated and was bleeding in a Basalt park early last week, O’Connor said.
The victim’s identity wasn’t immediately released.
A call was made to authorities at about 4:30 p.m. of a body in the Roaring Fork River at Basalt. “We were paged out to a man who had just floated under the Midland Avenue Bridge, face down and unconscious,” said Jerry Peetz, Basalt deputy fire chief. The reporting party said the man was wearing a backpack but no personal floatation device was visible, according to Peetz.
The Basalt Fire Department’s Swift Water Team immediately placed swimmers in the river at the Lower Two Rivers Bridge, near the intersection of Highway 82 and Lower Two Rivers Road. Other rescues authorities were stationed at a pedestrian bridge adjacent to the highway bridge. Peetz said they saw the backpack float by. Shortly after, they saw the body surface briefly in the roiling, runoff-swollen river but it couldn’t be retrieved at that point.
Members of the Basalt and Carbondale Swift Water Rescue Teams were also stationed at the raft put-in at Gilman Park, across from the Federal Express Building on Willits Lane. The man was pulled from the river there.
“He popped up pretty close to the bank. They went in and got him out right away,” Peetz said. “It was a textbook operation, as far as I’m concerned. Everybody did exactly what they are trained to do.”
CPR efforts were started immediately but the man couldn’t be revived. He was pulled from the river prior to 5:30 p.m.
Basalt Police Department is investigating the incident. Deputies from the Pitkin County and Eagle County sheriff’s offices also assisted at the scene.
Peetz said it was unknown where the man entered the water or the circumstances, based on the information called into the emergency dispatch center.
When the dispatch center paged the Basalt Fire Department, the report came in as “an elderly man in a white T-shirt” in the water.
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Former Rifle Bears standout turned starting running back for Western Colorado University Ty Leyba remembers it like it was yesterday.