Life jacket of dead kayaker found in car |

Life jacket of dead kayaker found in car

The kayaker killed on the Crystal River Wednesday has been identified as Les Raleigh Normandin, 53, from Parachute.Normandin was found in the river south of Carbondale by a passerby who spotted his body from Highway 133. His one-person kayak was found about a mile upstream from the campground.Normandin was wearing a helmet while kayaking, but not a life jacket, according to the Pitkin County coroner’s office. The coroner’s autopsy determined that the cause of death was drowning, and that no significant trauma occurred.Investigators found a life jacket in Normandin’s vehicle, parked near his intended takeout spot on the Crystal River.About 37 rescuers responded to the scene Wednesday, retrieving Normandin’s body from the water at about 2 p.m. The county’s incident management group was in Carbondale for wildfire training at the time, so it was able to respond quickly. The Carbondale and Basalt swift-water rescue teams and Carbondale Fire Department also responded.According to Glenwood Springs-based Colorado Canoe & Kayak, the Crystal River was running at 1,390 cubic feet per second Wednesday – high and fast due to increased snowmelt from recent warm temperatures. The stretch of river from Avalanche Creek to the BRB Crystal River Resort campground is popular with kayakers; it is rated as a Class 3 rapid by the guidebook “Colorado Rivers and Creeks.”A Class 3 rapid is characterized as having moderate, irregular waves which may be difficult to avoid. Strong eddies and powerful current effects can be found, particularly on large-volume rivers, according to the National Park Service.Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is

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