Rollover on Transfer Trail takes life of local guide, adventurer Ethan Turner

Matthew Bennett
Glenwood Springs Post Independent

A local rafting guide, outdoor adventurer and performance artist died late Monday night in a rollover accident on the Transfer Trail four-wheel-drive road north of Glenwood Springs.

Garfield County Coroner Robert Glassmire pronounced Ethan Turner, 25, who lived in Rifle, dead at the scene.

According to Colorado State Patrol, Turner was alone and headed north on the backcountry access road, roughly 2 miles north of Glenwood, when the wreck occurred at approximately 11:30 p.m. Monday.

Wednesday, State Patrol Trooper Gary Cutler stated that Turner was driving a 1998 black Toyota Forerunner when he went off the left side of the road on a sharp curve and rolled the vehicle several times down the embankment.

Turner was not wearing a seatbelt and was ejected from the vehicle, Cutler said.

“Excessive speed is suspected in the cause of the crash,” Cutler explained. He added that Garfield County Sheriff’s deputies were the first to respond, and that State Patrol was not alerted to the wreck until the following morning. The incident remains under investigation.

According to Turner’s Facebook profile page, in addition to his work as a rafting guide and boathouse manager for Up the Creek Rafting, Turner was also studying outdoor education at Colorado Mountain College and had previously studied at the Coney Island Sideshow School and performed as a sword swallower.

Turner grew up in Glenwood Springs. After the news of his passing, an outpouring of memories for the 25-year-old came in from family, friends and even those who knew Turner as their rafting guide.

His mother, Niki Turner, is owner and editor of The Rio Blanco Herald Times, serving the communities of Meeker and Rangely. She commented late Tuesday on Facebook that her son “pretty much did everything he wanted to do,” and that he “lived more in his quarter century on earth than most people do in 70 plus years.”

She also wrote a column Wednesday titled “The Club No One Wants To Join,” noting that Ethan would have been 26 later this month.

“Ethan lived more fully and more authentically to himself … He knew what he wanted, and he did it, from the time he was a toddler until he was in his 20s, and there was no stopping him,” she wrote.

Friends and acquaintances remembered Turner as someone who not only loved being outdoors but also had an avid appreciation for music and described him as an amazing human being with a vibrant thirst for authenticity and adventure.

One friend wrote on Turner’s Facebook page, “You are the most genuine and whole-hearted human being I’ve ever met … You are freedom, adventure, happiness … you are love, and nothing less.”