A man visiting from out of town died Monday in an incident on the Roaring Fork River during a commercial rafting trip with Blazing Adventures.
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 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 white-water 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.
The incident occurred shortly before 3 p.m., when two men fell out of the raft in the Hell’s Half Mile area of the Upper Roaring Fork River, a few miles above Woody Creek. One of the men returned to the raft, but the second did not reconnect with the vessel.
“Very unfortunately, the client was not able to swim to safety but was ultimately pulled from the river by a Blazing Adventures guide,” the statement said. “As part of normal emergency response protocols, guides administered CPR and medical responders were called to the scene but the gentleman was unable to be resuscitated.”
A statement from the Sheriff’s Office said the man was reportedly short of breath and eventually became unconscious. He was then moved to the river bank, where rescue personnel eventually took over resuscitation efforts. The man was then hauled up to the Rio Grande Trail using rope and transported to Aspen Valley Hospital via ambulance.
Rescue personnel from the Aspen Fire Department, Aspen Ambulance, Aspen Police Department, city of Aspen and Pitkin County Open Space and the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office responded to the scene.