Accident Database

Report ID# 3340

  • Swim into Strainer
  • Does not Apply
  • Other

Accident Description

 Durango Herald 5/30 

Robert Reiter, 20, of Gypsum drowned May 7 when he fell from a raft and became lodged under a submerged tree trunk. The body was recovered the next day. Reiter was one of 17 guide trainees with Southwest Whitewater. The accident occurred in a stretch of the Piedra known as Second Box Canyon, which is nearly inaccessible by foot. The canyon is about 10 miles north of U.S. Highway 160.

From Mountainbuzz: For those of you out there still looking for information on the extraction of the victim and removal of the strainer in "LONEPINE" rapid on the Piedra River (which is the first class IV on the upper section)

Search and Rescue called upon the P.R.O. (s) at Pagosa Rafting Outfitters and Wilderness Journeys based in Pagosa Springs, they assembled a crack team of experinced guides and after 3 1/2 HRs at the site, the team was able to cut and remove the entire strainer, and exract the victim from the upper box.

Ropes, Belays, Chainsaws and Comealongs were required to preform the extraction. A heavy duty tow strap and comealong are still left at the extraction site, attached to remaining piece of the original strainer, this will serve as a reminder for all of us out there to RESPECT the WATER, no matter where you are and what your experience level is. 

Let it be said Lone Pine typically is the rapid that catches the wood first and is worthy of a scout as it is Class IV and once you are in it there is minimal opportunity to stop. This rapid (for clarification) is the 1st major rapid in the upper box and has a boulder slot entrance just after a sharp right turn in the river. Scouting can be done just above the bend on river right. After you pass the boulder slot you are in the rapid.


Denver Post

Gypsum Man Dies In Rafting Accident Gypsum

Man Pinned Underwater

By Tree Ryan Budnick, 7NEWS Assignment Producer

POSTED: 2:03 pm MDT May 9, 2010

ARCHULETA COUNTY, Colo. -- A Gypsum man is dead after a rafting accident Friday afternoon on the Piedra River in Archuleta County. The Archuleta County Sheriff's Office said 20-year-old Robert Reiter died when he was pinned underwater by a tree for two hours. Archuleta sheriff spokesman Gerald English said the accident happened about 20 miles west of Pagosa Springs in Second Box Canyon. English said Reiter's rafting companions tried for a couple of hours to free him from his entanglement. A fellow rafter reported the fatal accident two hours after it happened.

English said the remote nature of the area caused a lengthy delay in reporting the accident and the response of emergency crews. English said rescue crews initially dispatched a helicopter when the incident was reported, but sheer cliffs kept flight crews from being able to land. The sheriff's office had to send a raft down the river in order to reach the victim.

English said Reiter was a student at Fort Lewis College and that he was on a trip with Southwest Whitewater Rafting, based out of Durango. The accident is being investigated by the sheriff's office and Colorado State Park Rangers.


Fort Lewis College student Robert Scott Reiter died in a rafting accident on the Piedra River on Friday, May 7, 2010. He was 20. Mr. Reiter was completing his river training to begin his third season as a raft guide for Southwest Whitewater. Known as “Scotty," he was born to Holly Snyder and Randall Reiter on Feb. 22, 1990, in Glenwood Springs. He grew up primarily in Gypsum, where he graduated from Red Canyon High School in 2008. One of his dreams was to return to the school as a teacher some day.

Mr. Reiter had just completed his sophomore year at FLC, where he was working toward his teaching certificate. He played on the FLC club hockey team this winter. Mr. Reiter was passionate about snowboarding and enjoyed skateboarding, wake-boarding, boating, music and reading. “Scott was an amazing, brilliant and caring young man who leaves behind many family and friends from around the world," his family wrote. “He touched so many lives, and we will sorely miss him."

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