No progress in search for rafter

Julie Sutor
Summit County correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

BRECKENRIDGE – Crews were unable to locate the body of missing rafter Kimberly Appelson on Wednesday in the latest of a series of fruitless searches in the Arkansas River.

Appelson fell out of a raft July 11 near the river’s Frog Rock rapid and has not been seen since. The 23-year-old Breckenridge resident was a first-year raft guide with Arkansas Valley Adventures but was not on duty during the accident.

Officials have made several attempts to find Appelson, but high flows have prevented rescuers from safely exploring the location where her body is believed to be. Officials arranged for flows to be reduced to 160 cubic feet per second (cfs) Wednesday so they could conduct a more thorough search. At the time of the accident, the river was flowing at about 670 cfs at Frog Rock.

“Unfortunately, we were unsuccessful,” said Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area park manager Rob White. “We searched everywhere we possibly could. Despite the fact that we had divers, underwater cameras and probe poles, we were just unable to find her.”

On Tuesday, search dogs gave indications the body could still be under water near the site of the accident. Even with Wednesday’s lower flows, White said there were still a couple of spots teams couldn’t access due to water depth and the configuration of the rocks.

“It was still a pretty difficult operation,” White said.

Late Wednesday afternoon, immediately after the search, officials had not yet determined what the next steps would be in the recovery effort.