Man dies while rafting through Dowd Junction
EAGLE-VAIL, Colorado – A man from the Aspen area died Saturday while rafting on the Eagle River through Dowd Junction.
The Eagle County Sheriff’s Office, Vail Mountain Rescue, the Eastern Eagle County Ambulance District, Vail Fire Department, Minturn Police Department, Avon Police Department and the Eagle River Fire Protection District responded to the call that came in at 11:36 a.m. Saturday.
Three men from the Aspen area had put their raft into the river near the Holy Cross Ranger Station, just off Interstate 70 in Minturn.
The 14-foot raft flipped somewhere in Dowd Junction, said Shannon Cordingly, spokeswoman for the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office.
“They didn’t make it very far,” she said.
The man who died was in his 40s. His name won’t be released until family members are notified.
The other two men in the raft were able to reach the river bank and self-rescue, Cordingly said. When they didn’t see their friend, they called 911.
Darryl Bangert, owner of Sage Outdoor Adventures in Vail, was nearby at a boat house just below the Dowd Chutes when he saw a man walking along the riverbank carrying a life jacket.
“Whenever you see that, it means people need assistance,” Bangert said.
Bangert said the man told him their raft had flipped and that one of the occupants was missing. By the time Bangert got downstream to see if he could help, rescuers were already on scene and had the man out of the river, performing CPR.
Cordingly said the three men in the raft were all experienced rafters.
The Eagle County coroner was on the way to the scene just after 1 p.m.
Rescuers on scene said they performed CPR on the man for 20 to 30 minutes. Rescuers had the man on the north side of the Eagle River, slightly east of Big O Tires in Eagle-Vail.
The men had no affiliation with the Teva Mountain Games going on in Vail this weekend, Cordingly said.
Bangert said the Eagle River went from 6 feet to 8 feet overnight – a huge, radical difference in the character of the river, he said.
“High water like this comes so rarely that people don’t really have the chance to practice,” Bangert said.