Wagon accident kills Rifle man
A Rifle man was killed last week in a mule wagon accident on Bureau of Land Management property northwest of Rifle Gap. LeRoy Schroeder, 54, became trapped in a homemade mule cart as he gathered wood while working as a guide for some hunters, according to reports.The accident happened at 12:15 p.m. Oct. 12. Schroeder, who had lived in Rifle since 1989, was the father of two adult sons and a member of the Garfield County Search and Rescue team. He was working as a guide for his business, Sunrise Outfitters, when the accident occurred. According to Garfield County Search and Rescue member Lanny Grant, Schroeder was gathering wood for the hunters’ campsite by wrapping a chain around loose oak brush and dragging it about 200 yards back to camp. “It was a homemade cart with a tractor seat and a wooden platform,” Grant said. The two-wheeled, V-shaped cart was pulled by two mules, he said. The six out-of-state hunters Schroeder was guiding said they were planning to pack out that afternoon. That’s when Schroeder told them he was going to get one more load of wood. “A few minutes later they heard a commotion and heard the mules bolting. Then they realized LeRoy was caught in it,” Grant said. After investigating the accident, officials said they think the piece of wood holding the seat to the rest of the wagon broke, spooking the mules. Schroeder then may have caught his foot in the wagon, was pulled under it and was dragged over the rough and rocky terrain back to camp. Grant said investigators think Schroeder’s injuries occurred when he hit his head on a rock or the wagon’s wheel. “When the hunters realized he was caught up, they pulled him out and attempted to perform CPR,” Grant said. Garfield County Search and Rescue and a helicopter from St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction were dispatched to the scene, but it was too late. “We transported him out by helicopter to the staging area, then into Rifle,” Grant said. Schroeder’s memorial service was Saturday at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Rifle. “He was honored and remembered as a friend and a fellow team member,” Grant said.Grant said what seemed like a typical call to rescue a hunter that changed dramatically Tuesday when he found out it was his friend and a rescue team member. “It’s one of the risks of being a volunteer; we never know who we’re going to find,” he said.Grant said he and fellow rescue team members were given a briefing on the situation and offered counseling. “We’re doing OK,” he said. “We’re glad he was doing what he loved, being out with the animals. We’re grateful for that and for his membership. He was a great guy. So we lost a team member and a friend.”Contact Greg Massé: 945-8515, ext. firstname.lastname@example.org
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