Date
Victim
Victim Age
River
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Location
Gage
Water Level
Difficulty
Cause
Cause Code(s)
Injury Type(s)
Factors Code(s)
Experienced/Inexperienced
Private/Commercial
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Accident Description


Search and rescue recovers 11-year-old

Posted: Monday, June 15, 2015

Search and rescue crews recovered the body of the missing 11-year-old boy Friday from the Arkansas River in Browns Canyon. Drake Durkee, from Golden, was thrown from his raft at Big Drop Rapid Wednesday during a commercial rafting trip. His body was found just downstream of the site where he went into the water. Search and rescue crews scoured Browns Canyon and downstream as far as the Big Bend river access for 2 days after Durkee’s disappearance. Chaffee County Sheriff John Spezze confirmed that the boy’s personal flotation device came off sometime after he was thrown from the boat. It was found downstream of Big Drop.

Rescue crews worked Friday back to areas where they considered there was a higher likelihood of finding the boy’s body. Search and rescue crews had a diving team on hand Friday, but they didn’t use the team because the water was too high and murky, said Spezze. Responders used underwater cameras and then probing poles when they found what they thought was a body underwater. They were first able to dislodge a helmet, which matched the missing boy’s, and eventually the body.

Spezze said he could not say for sure how the body had stayed in one place rather than float downstream – there are several things in the river that a body can get hung up on. It was likely foot entrapment, which search and rescue workers had suspected early in their response.

It is standard for rafting guides to warn customers of the dangers of standing up in the river. The river floor is covered with spots where a person’s foot can get stuck. And the danger lies in the force of the water pushing the person underwater with a foot firmly stuck in place.

The Arkansas River Basin still has tremendous snowpack, the sheriff added. Recently, the water has been rising by hundreds of cubic feet per second each day, and the snowpack isn’t dwindling. Spezze guessed the river could still be 3 weeks from its high-water peak. He advised boaters to use extreme caution, especially private boaters. Be prepared, be in shape, he said.

For the most part, the rafting companies do a good job of keeping their customers safe, but the river is a high-risk environment, Spezze said.

Durkee’s death was the first rafting fatality of the 2015 whitewater season in Chaffee County. The sheriff said an investigation into the incident is ongoing, as the sheriff’s office must look into the rafting company’s conduct to make sure it took all the proper precautions.

Agencies assisting in the search include the Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office, Chaffee County Emergency Medical Services, Chaffee County Search and Rescue North and South, Search and Rescue Dogs of Colorado, Flight for Life, Colorado Parks and Wildlife – Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area, Colorado Springs Fire Department and the Bureau of Land Management.

 

Chaffee County Coroner: Body found in Arkansas River was young boy in rafting accident

 

CHAFFEE COUNTY, Colo. — The body of a juvenile male was found Friday afternoon in the Arkansas River according to the Chaffee County Sheriff. Rescue crews have been searching for an 11-year-old boy from Golden who went missing after a rafting accident on the Arkansas on Wednesday.

Sheriff John Spezze said the body was found in the same set of rapids where the 11-year-old fell into the river.

The Chaffee County Coroner identified the body on Saturday as Drake Durkee from Golden.

The boy was on a commercial rafting trip with The Adventure Company when he and two others went into the river in a class 3 section in Browns Canyon about 11 miles north of Salida about 3:40 p.m. Wednesday.

The sheriff’s office said the raft high sided; the other two rafters were pulled to safety by other rafts.

About 63 searchers looked for the boy Thursday. Ground searchers walked the banks of the river and rafters floated the length of the canyon but could not find the boy. An air-scent dog was also deployed, as was a Flight for Life helicopter.

Meanwhile, the Fremont County Sheriff’s Office is also searching down river from Chaffee County after a passerby reported seeing a body floating in the river near Mackenzie. Overnight, Fremont County said its search was not related to that of the missing 11-year-old from Chaffee County.

A four person commercial raft flipped in big drop. Guide remained with the raft and two swimmers were rescued by other rafts. The fourth swimmer was observed briefly, but came out of his PFD. One raft and a paddle board went down river to search while the rest of the rafts remained behind.

CHAFFEE COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE
Salida, Colorado

PRESS RELEASE

On June 10, 2015 at approximately 3:40 pm there was a whitewater related boating incident on the Arkansas River in Chaffee County, Colorado. The accident occurred at the Big Drop Rapids, a class 3 section of water located approximately 11 miles north of Salida, Colorado. The Arkansas River was running at 3020 CFS at the time of the accident.

According to witnesses the raft, a commercial rafting trip owned by The Adventure Company, of Johnsons Village, Colorado, entered the Big Drop Rapids in Browns Canyon. The raft high sided and 3 occupants of that raft fell into the river. Two of the three rafters were pulled to safety by other rafts in the area. A third occupant was not recovered. The victim was identified as an 11 year old male from Golden, Colorado.

Emergency crews responded to the area and a search began immediately. The search continued until nightfall at which time the victim had yet to be recovered. The search for the victim will resume at first light tomorrow morning, June 11, 2015.Agencies assisting with the search operation were the Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Chaffee County EMS, Chaffee County Search and Rescue North and South, Salida Fire Dept, Salida Police Dept and Flight for Life.

kktv.com: Search teams are looking for an 11-year-old boy that fell into the Arkansas River. The accident happened Wednesday afternoon, around 3:40 about 11 miles north of Salida. According to the Chaffee County Sheriff's Department, a rafting group entered a section in Browns Canyon called the Big Drop Rapids. The raft tipped over and three people fell out. Two people were pulled to safety by other rafters. A third person, an 11-year-old boy from Golden, was not found. Emergency crews responded to the scene but could not find the boy. The search will continue at first light on Thursday.

Colorado authorities continue search for Golden boy, 11, missing in Arkansas River

Sheriff John Spezze said the search resumed at first light on Thursday

By Matthew Nussbaum and Jesse Paul

The Denver Post; 06/11/2015

Authorities in Chaffee County continued searching Thursday for an 11-year-old Golden boy tossed into the Arkansas River on Wednesday afternoon during a commercial rafting trip. The boy was on a raft operated by the Adventure Company when it high-sided about 11 miles north of Salida at the Big Drop Rapids, a Class 3 section. Three rafters fell into the river, and all were recovered except for the boy, who was rafting with family members. "Emergency crews responded to the area, and a search began immediately," the sheriff's office said in a news release. "The search continued until nightfall, at which time the victim had yet to be recovered." Sheriff John Spezze said the search resumed at first light Thursday. Several area law enforcement and fire rescue agencies are assisting, with more than 50 people engaged in the search.

The raft company remained open and continued trips Thursday. Six years is the minimum age to participate on the run on which the accident occurred, according Adventure Company's owners, Mark and Sarah Hammer. The Class 3 rapids are considered to be of intermediate difficulty. The trip's guide has 10 years of experience leading whitewater rafting trips, according to Mark Hammer. All guides must have at least four years of experience as professional guides to be hired at the company, he said. "This is as bad as it gets," Hammer said, describing a somber mood at the company Thursday. He said this is the first such serious incident to occur at Adventure Company.

Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office: body of juvenile male found in Arkansas River

JUNE 11, 2015, BY CHUCK HICKEY, CHAFFEE COUNTY, Colo. – The body of a juvenile boy was found Friday afternoon in the Arkansas River according to the Chaffee County Sheriff. Rescue crews have been searching for an 11-year-old boy from Golden who went missing after a rafting accident on the Arkansas on Wednesday. Sheriff John Spezze said the body was found in the same set of rapids where the 11-year-old fell into the river. The Chaffee County Coroner will work to make a positive identification on the body and determine the cause of death.

The missing boy was on a commercial rafting trip with The Adventure Company when there was an accident at the Big Drop Rapids, a class 3 section about 11 miles north of Salida, about 3:40 p.m. The Chaffee County Sheriff’s Office said three people fell into the river after the raft high sided. Two of the rafters were pulled to safety by other rafts. The search also took place in Fremont County, downstream from where the boy fell into the Arkansas River.