Colorado River claims two victims in separate incidents |

Colorado River claims two victims in separate incidents

EAGLE COUNTY — Two bodies were pulled from the Colorado River on Saturday, one near northern Eagle County and another in Garfield County.

Boaters from Avon and Glenwood Springs were rafting the river Saturday afternoon, and as they cleared the Needles Eye Rapids between Pumphouse and Radium, they spotted two inflatable rubber canoes flipped over and a life jacket floating in the water a little way ahead of them.

Needles Eye Rapids are Class 3 in that area, said Grand County Sheriff Rodney Johnson.


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One of the boaters, who asked that their names not be used, said they spotted one man near the side of the river, exhausted after struggling to get out of the water. About the same time, they spotted a second man, motionless and floating in the river.

They pulled him into their boat and started CPR but could get no response.

They continued administering CPR as they took him in their boat down the river to the Radium boat takeout, an “emotional” 30-minute ride, they said.

Other boaters had alerted authorities and they were met at Radium by emergency medical technicians from Eagle County and Grand County sheriff’s deputies, who transported the body.

Johnson said that’s a heavily used part of the river.

“It’s not unusual to have one death a year,” Johnson said.

Grand County Coroner Brenda Bock identified the victim as William Fliris, 67, of Lusk, Wyoming. She said Fliris drowned.

“He was found pretty quickly and they did everything they could, but it was already too late,” Bock said.

The boaters who found Fliris said he had all the right gear and a helmet, but his life jacket was not securely fitted and almost came off when they pulled him from the river.

Boaters said Monday that when life jackets are properly fitted, they’re designed to enable you bob face up in the water, and not let you float face down.

GarField County river death

About that same time Saturday afternoon several miles downriver in Garfield County, the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office was notified that a body had been found in the Colorado River.

The body was discovered by a group of rafters who called 911 from the location using a cell phone.

The body was found on the Colorado River parallel to Interstate 70 between mile markers 90 and 91.

A search and rescue was called in to retrieve the body.

At this time, no foul play is suspected, said the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office. On Monday afternoon, the Garfield County coroner was trying to identity the individual.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and

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