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Drowning determined as cause of death in two recent boating incidents

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Garfield County Coroner Robert Glassmire has released the cause of death in two recent water-related tragedies, one on the Colorado River in Glenwood Canyon and another at Sweetwater Lake, attributing both to drowning.

Paulette Almirall, 66, of Sanford, Florida, died following a commercial rafting accident in Glenwood Canyon on June 18.

Almirall was pulled from the river by emergency personnel after the raft she was in tipped over in the Colorado River near Grizzly Creek.



It was initially unclear whether Almirall died from drowning or from a subsequent medical emergency.

Glassmire said Tuesday that an autopsy concluded she died from accidental drowning.  



Likewise, Glassmire said that David VanCleave, 64, of Arvada, died as a result of drowning after a canoe he and his wife were in on Sweetwater Lake in remote northeast Garfield County tipped over the evening of June 21. VanCleave also had Parkinson’s disease, which may have contributed to his death, he said. 

Garfield County Sheriff’s deputies received notice the following morning that a woman was stranded on the cliffs north of Sweetwater Lake, and during the rescue determined that her husband was still missing.

“The canoe capsized (the night before), and the female and dog were able to swim to the shore,” the Sheriff’s Office said at the time. “Unfortunately, the male party was unable to reach the shore.”

His body was discovered the next morning and retrieved by fishermen and paddle boarders who were recreating on the lake.


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