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Drowning victim’s body recovered

Tim Mutrie

Theresa Levan Katz’s body was recovered from the Grottos on the Roaring Fork River Monday morning.

On Sunday, Katz, 52, of Miami, Fla., lost her footing near the Grottos Falls, fell into the dangerous water and was swept under by the current. Rescuers searched the stretch of river for more than four hours Sunday, but postponed efforts in the evening due to rain and darkness.

Recovery efforts resumed at 5:30 a.m. Monday morning, and after three and a half hours, rescuers located her body at the bottom of a deep pool at the falls. Katz’s body was recovered from the river at about 10:30 a.m., according to Deputy Tom Grady of the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office.

“No one had to go into the water,” Grady said. “It just took awhile to get her out after she was located.

“She was right where we thought she was,” Grady added. On Sunday, rescuers had focused their efforts on one specific pool in the middle section of the falls – the same pool where Katz’s body was recovered Monday.

“She was in very deep water,” Grady said. He estimated that the pool was about 15 feet deep.

“There are all kinds of logs and snags in there, and she got pinned under in there somehow,” Grady said.

Immediately after responding to the incident Sunday afternoon, authorities contacted the Colorado Water Commission to have water flow from Lincoln Creek largely diverted at Grizzly Reservoir, in order to reduce the flow through the Grottos and facilitate rescue efforts.

“But the water diversion didn’t help much because they’ve got a broken head gate at the damn, so they couldn’t divert as much water as they wanted too,” Grady said. “As a result, we were still dealing with some extremely high pressure and high volume water.”

Volunteers with the local Swift Water Search and Rescue team, composed of members of the Aspen, Snowmass and Basalt fire departments and Mountain Rescue Aspen, as well as the Sheriff’s Office and dogs and handlers from Search and Rescue Dogs of Colorado participated in the two-day, search-and-recovery effort.

Katz and her husband, a prominent Miami psychiatrist, and a group of friends were vacationing in Aspen over the weekend, and on Sunday, the group had been picnicking at a campsite just below the falls. At some point, Katz and others went for a closer look at the falls, when Katz lost her footing, fell into the swift current and never surfaced.

Katz was an interior designer who worked on banks, corporations and upscale homes in southern Florida. The longtime Miami resident leaves behind three children from her first marriage, as well as five step-children from her second marriage.

A 22-year-old Oklahoma man died in the same stretch of the Roaring Fork earlier this summer, after he was swept away in the current directly above Grottos Falls. The Grottos are located about 10 miles east of Aspen on Highway 82.


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