Accident Database

Report ID# 398

  • Flush Drowning
  • Health Problem
  • Heart Attack / Heart Failure
  • High Water

Accident Description

1995 saw a record number of commercial outfitter fatalities on Colorado rivers. The four deaths, roughly one for every 130,000 guests, is the highest annual toll since the state began keeping records ten years ago. All were flush drownings caused in part by unusually high water levels. Including private paddlers, there were a total of 10 whitewater fatalities statewide. Only one of these involved a kayaker.

On July 10 William Simonton, 73 drowned on Dowd's Chutes of the Eagle River when his raft flipped. He was flushed downstream for about 5 minutes. A heart attack, caused by the cold water, may have been responsible. The victim was wearing a full wetsuit.

SOURCES: Denver Post, Rocky Mountain News, Boulder Daily Times, and Roger W. Lynn, CWWA Safety Chair

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