Recovery of rafter’s body to be attempted Wednesday |

Recovery of rafter’s body to be attempted Wednesday

Janice Kurbjun
summit daily news
Kimberly Appleson

BUENA VISTA – Colorado State Parks officials plan to build a cofferdam Tuesday around the Arkansas River area where Kimberly Appelson’s body is still presumed to be located.

Appelson, 23 at the time, was a first-year Arkansas Valley Adventures raft guide who was ejected from a raft at an area of the river known as Frog Rock during a recreational excursion. Frog Rock is known to contain a potentially deadly underwater rock feature known as a sieve, which officials believe is where Appleson’s body is still trapped.

Search techniques have included free diving, underwater cameras, technical rope systems, boat systems and probes: “Just about everything in our arsenal,” said Stew Pappenfort, senior ranger at Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area, in a previous interview.

Colorado State Parks spokeswoman Deb Frazier said construction of the cofferdam is expected to be complete by the end of the day Tuesday, and a body recovery attempt should be made Wednesday. The cofferdam is meant to slow water flows, which can be fast and dangerous to rescuers in that area.

An excavator is to be brought on site via a private landowner’s property adjacent to the Bureau of Land Management land. It will be used to construct the cofferdam and to move the boulders that create the sieve.

No environmental impact statement was done for the project, as U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management officials agreed it wouldn’t be necessary if photos were taken of the river feature prior to disruption and it was returned as close as possible to its original configuration.

“There will be a significant increase in signage and information at the site and along the river to help people be aware of the hazard that is there,” Frazier said. She added that officials decided the river feature would not be destroyed, as it is a fish habitat.

SDN reporter Janice Kurbjun can be contacted at (970) 668-4630 or at

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