Accident Database

Report ID# 1083

  • Health Problem
  • Heart Attack / Heart Failure
  • Other

Accident Description

 Publish Date: 6/9/2006

Man dies in rafting accident

by David Young The Canon City, CO Daily Record

An Iowa man died Thursday afternoon rafting the Arkansas River in the Royal Gorge, according to Fremont County Sheriff?s Office Detective Harry Sharp. At about 3 p.m., Sharp said a 911 call came in from Echo Canyon River Expeditions regarding a body in the river. Upon arrival, authorities found Gary John Heller, 59, of Oakland, Iowa, dead. Sharp said a raft containing seven occupants including a guide, taking a day trip through the Royal Gorge, flipped over because of high water at the point in the river known as as Sledgehammer. Sheriffs reports identified Echo Canyon River Expeditions as the company that Heller and his son were rafting with.

"You can go through there one minute fine, and (the river) will throw the next guys through," Sharp said. Thats just the nature of the beast. Sharp said the other six rafters, including Hellers son, survived uninjured. The cause of death is still under investigation, said deputy county coroner Tim Andrews. Owner of Echo Canyon River Expeditions Andy Neinas declined to comment. The sherif'?s office, Canon City Fire Department, Fremont County Coroner?s Office, American Medical Response and Colorado State Parks Department responded to the incident. No autopsy was performed. The Coronor speculated that the likely cause of death was heart failure.

David Young may be e-mailed at

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