The Poudre River claimed its first victim of the season Sunday - a 29-year-old New Mexico woman who fell off an inner tube while floating the river as it begins to flow through Fort Collins. Christine Beltram of Santa Fe, N.M., fell in fast-running and chilly spring water about 2 p.m. She was later pronounced dead at Poudre Valley Hospital after being submersed in the water for two hours.
Fifteen members from the Sheriff's Office, Larimer County Dive Rescue Team and Poudre Fire Authority searched the river between Taft Hill Road and Overland Trail. The river was running relatively fast - at about 900 cubic feet per second in the area, PFA spokesman Patrick Love said. And it does not appear she was wearing a life-jacket. River speeds are faster and colder this time of year because of mountain snowmelt that feed them. The woman's body was found on the north side of the river just downstream from a strainer, an opening that allows water to flow through but no solid object. It can be formed by trees or rocks and is considered one of the most dangerous features of a river.
Larimer County Sheriff's dispatch received a call at 1:54 p.m. from a passer-by who reported that five or six people were tubing or rafting on the Poudre River when all fell in. Love said Sunday the latest information he has is that four people fell in. All but one made it out safely. Sheriff's spokeswoman Eloise Campanella said the victim was on vacation and had no local ties. She was tubing with other people but got separated, said Love, and that's when the accident happened. Love advised anyone tubing, rafting or kayaking the river to wear a life jacket, beware of strainers and scout the river for danger spots if possible.