Yesterday afternoon Engine 5 (Minturn), Engine 7 (Avon), and Battalion 7 responded to the Eagle River below Dowd Chute Rapid for a report of a near drowning. A private 13’ paddle raft had two swimmers in the last hole in the Chute, with one swimming approximately a quarter mile before being removed to shore by the group she was with and kayakers who were in the area.
Crews used a stokes basket and rope system to facilitate the rescue. Several firefighters pictured are in full swiftwater protective gear including drysuits because of the precarious position of the patient. She was on shore but just upstream of a strainer and railroad bridge abutment which are a major hazard in this section of the Eagle River. The boater was transported to Vail Valley Medical Center for evaluation by Eagle County Paramedic Services.
River flow was 5.5’ on the Dowd Chute foot gauge which is approximately 2,500 cubic feet per second at the USGS monitoring site in Avon. Thanks to the local boaters who not only got the rafter to shore but assisted fire crews with the operation of moving her up the hillside and over a wall. Responding agencies included Eagle River Fire, Eagle County Paramedic Services, the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office and Vail Public Safety Communications Center.
A private raft trip had two swimmers in Dowd Chute rapid, I believe the they swam after hitting one of the last holes which some guides think has changed over the last couple of years and is now harder than before. It was a one raft trip and the paddlers were prepared to swim with wetsuits and drysuits on.
One person was pulled back into the raft, but the girl swam a bit longer and was rope bagged by some kayakers who ran down the path and got her in. RP's stated she was "out" for a couple of seconds and that she swallowed a lot of water. When we go to her she was conscious and doing good. Update yesterday stated she is fine.
I think the kayakers who assisted on shore flagged down a car on Hwy. 6 and had them call 911.