Body recovered from Roaring Fork River, downstream from Devil’s Punchbowl
An Aspen Fire Department swift-water rescue team recovered a body from the Roaring Fork River on Thursday downstream from the Devil’s Punchbowl area up Independence Pass.
The Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office sent out a statement around 9:15 p.m. saying that it learned of a possible deceased person in the river “somewhere up Independence Pass” just before 1 p.m. Deputy Tiffani Delaney said the location was in the river downstream from the Punchbowl near the Weller Trailhead parking lot.
“It was a hiker that contacted us,” Delaney said.
Between five and 10 swift-water rescue members from the Aspen Fire Department responded and recovered the body, she said. The statement says that the recovery team was out of the field by 8 p.m., more than 7 hours after the call initially came in.
“The river is still really high, and we wanted to use every precaution to keep our rescue personnel safe,” Delaney said. “It definitely did take more than a couple of hours. Due to the fact the river was high, we wanted to go slowly.”
When asked whether the body recovered could be Will Graham, a 31-year-old Aspen resident who went missing last month after presumably jumping into the Punchbowl, Delaney wouldn’t confirm or deny that possibility.
“I can’t say yes or no, but that is being explored,” she said. “That’s definitely being explored. The autopsy will give us more identifying information.”
Sheriff Joe DiSalvo said around 9:30 p.m., less than two hours after the recovery mission ended, that all he knows is that a body was recovered Thursday afternoon from the river. He said he wasn’t yet aware if the person was male or female.
Delaney and DiSalvo both said there’s no estimate at this time on how long it will take to identify the body.
The Coroner’s Officer will conduct an autopsy. The exact manner and cause of death is still pending, according to the statement.
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