Searchers may look again for Breckenridge raft guide

Robert Allen
Summit County correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

BUENA VISTA, Colo. – Officials aim to recover the body of a rafting guide from Breckenridge, who’s been missing for five weeks, from the Arkansas River on Wednesday.

Flow levels have been too high to safely attempt recovery at the underwater hazard where the body is believed to be lodged.

First-year, off-duty guide Kimberly Appelson, 23, disappeared shortly after she was ejected from a boat near Frog Rock rapid July 11.

“I’m ready to put a closing note on this one,” said Stew Pappenfort, senior ranger at Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area. “We’ve had people missing on the river this long, but it’s very seldom.”

He said there have been “only a couple instances in the last 20 years” that a recovery has taken as long.

Runoff from recent monsoon rains precluded a planned recovery attempt earlier this month. Flows are to be reduced for about four hours Wednesday to allow for the recovery.

Search dogs previously confirmed a scent at the site, and Pappenfort said the dogs are to be brought back to the area for a couple hours before the recovery attempt to “make sure nothing has changed.”

The segment of river is about 2 miles north of Buena Vista. Nearby signs warn that below 1,000 cubic feet per second, there is danger of entrapment in the area.

The river was at about 670 cubic feet per second when Appelson disappeared; it was at 543 cfs on Friday.

People down river have been made aware of the significant drop to expected to occur Wednesday.

The day she disappeared, Appelson was wearing a life jacket and helmet.