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Accident Description


Castle Rock man dies in rafting accident

Rhonda Moore, Staff Writer 07/03/2008

A Castle Rock man died on a rafting trip on the Arkansas River, where five people have lost their lives since the start of the summer tourism season. Volker Beer, 71, was on a two-person kayak trip on the Arkansas River when his companion discovered his capsized kayak in the river behind a Buena Vista guest hotel, Walker said.

A Tucson man known by his peers as an expert outdoorsman, kayaker and athlete lost his life doing what he loved Sunday. Volker Beer, 70, died while kayaking on the Arkansas River in Colorado, the third fatality on the river in six days, a Chaffee County Sheriff's Department official said. Beer's relatives said he was an avid triathalete and competed in many athletic competitions in Tucson. He lived on Mount Lemmon when the Aspen Fire burned down his cabin in 2003. Family members said he was not deterred and rebuilt his home from scratch.

Family members said Beer escaped from Nazi Germany. He moved to Tucson in 1979 and became an American citizen a few years ago. Beer was a member of the Southern Arizona Paddler's Club, said Chip Arnberg, past president of club.

He said the Arkansas River was carrying up to three times its normal volume, which can be extremely dangerous even for an expert kayaker. "(Beer) was kayaking before people knew how kayaking worked. He was doing it when the sport was brand-new and was very good, very competent," Arnberg said. "But there is an inherent risk in it."

Rescuers spotted Beer face-down in the water near Liars' Lodge and pulled him from the water at River Park, authorities said.

He was pronounced dead at Heart of the Rockies Regional Medical Center in Salida, about 70 miles west of Colorado Springs. Authorities said Beer fell out of his kayak and was swept downriver.  Beer's death was the fourth on the Arkansas River this rafting season. He had a wife of 42 years and two sons.

The Associated Press contributed to this story. Contact reporter Philip Haldiman at 629-9412 or at phaldiman@azstarnet.com