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Accident Description


Man missing on Poudre River near Fort Collins after raft slips away from trio

Rebecca Powell, Fort Collins Coloradoan

Published 11:20 p.m. MT June 29, 2019 | 

A 57-year-old Fort Collins man is missing after becoming separated from his raft in the Poudre River on Saturday. The man, who wasn't identified in a news release from the Larimer County Sheriff's Office, was rafting with two others Saturday afternoon when their single-chamber inflatable raft came out from under them, according to the sheriff's office.  His rafting companions, a 46-year-old man and his 13-year-old son, made it out of the river after becoming separated from the 57-year-old.

Emergency responders got the call about 2:20 p.m. and arrived to the area where the incident was reported, near mile markers 107 and 108 on Colorado Highway 14, which are west of Mishawaka Amphitheatre. The search was suspended at 7:40 p.m.

Jason Slotter via Facebook
We were having such a clean and incident free season on the river so far this year, however this sounds like this will end up as a very sad story. What were these guys thinking though? I'm told it was a single chambered Walmart raft. At this time of year when the flows are this high, in that section of river, not a good idea at all. It's questionable whether or not someone should run that type of raft anywhere on the river, even late in the summer. Only the 13 year old child was wearing a life vest, but you have to ask, should a 13 year old child even be on the river this time of year without professional guides. Both adults were not wearing life vests or helmets, and I was also told by first responders, that the missing man was wearing bluejeans and boots. Not a good combination at all. I
 know this is a lot of second guessing, but to me these are plainly common sense mistakes. Seems like something teenagers would do, not grown men, that by their age should understand the power of high water on a powerful river. My heart goes out to his family and friends, and hopefully they find him alive, but when these searches lead to a second day, the outcome usually is not good. If you are out fishing or boating today from the tunnel down river, please keep your eyes open for any signs of this missing individual. And please remember to be safe on the river, make good choices, and do not take unnecessary chances. 

LARIMER COUNTY, Colo. — The search was called off Sunday afternoon for a 57-year-old Fort Collins man who was missing after he and two others fell into the water while floating down the Poudre River on a raft Saturday afternoon, according to the Larimer County Sheriff's Office.

The group of three was floating down the river when their raft came out from under them just before 2:30 p.m. Saturday between mile markers 107 and 108 on Highway 14, the sheriff's office said.

Sunday morning, more than 20 personnel from Larimer County Sheriff’s Office Emergency Services, Larimer County Search and Rescue, and Larimer County Dive Rescue Team resumed searching for the man. Ground crews and a drone team searched a 12-mile stretch of the river, the sheriff's office said. David L. Smith was last seen wearing blue jeans and no shirt.

Searchers did not enter the high and swift-flowing river as they did not find anything or have any information leading them to search a specific part of the river. The search was called off several hours later. and no further large-scale search operations are planned unless new information becomes available about the man’s location, the sheriff's office said. 

Emergency services personnel will monitor the river conditions to determine when to conduct future searches. 

A 48-year-old man and his 13-year-old son made it out of the water with minor injuries but became separated from the other man, according to the sheriff's office.

Numerous agencies responded Saturday after the incident and spent hours searching for the man from the shore because it was too dangerous to put anyone into the water to look for him, a spokesperson for the agency said.

The 13-year-old boy was the only one wearing a life jacket. Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to call Larimer County Sheriff’s Office at 970-416-1985.

More than 20 searchers spent six hours Sunday looking for a man who was thrown from his raft on the Poudre River the day before but  they failed to find him.

The missing rafter has been identified as David L. Smith, 57, of Fort Collins, according to a Sunday evening news release from the Larimer County Sheriff's Office.

Members of Larimer County Sheriff’s Office Emergency Services, Larimer County Search and Rescue and Larimer County Dive Rescue Team searched 12 miles of the river from mile marker 107 (west of Mishawaka) to mile marker 119. Crews did not enter the swift-moving river because they did not have information to search in a specific area. A drone team searched the area as well.

Search called off for Fort Collins man missing in the Poudre River

By LOVELAND< CO REPORTER-HERALD STAFF |

PUBLISHED: June 30, 2019 at 2:51 pm

The search for a 57-year-old man who was missing in the Poudre River after a rafting accident was called off Sunday afternoon.

A group of three rafters was in the Poudre River west of Fort Collins when the single-chamber raft came out from under them on Saturday afternoon. Two were able to make it out of the river, but the third, identified as David L. Smith, was separated from the others, according to a press release from the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office.

The two rafters who made it out, a 46-year-old Fort Collins man and his 13-year-old son, suffered minor injuries and were treated on scene and released, the press release states. The teen was the only one wearing a life jacket.

Smith was wearing blue jeans but no life jacket or helmet. He was not wearing a shirt.

The Larimer County Sheriff’s Office received notification of the incident at 2:20 p.m., and crews responded from the Sheriff’s Office, Larimer County Dive Rescue Team, Larimer County Search and Rescue along with firefighters, ambulance services and the U.S. Forest Service.

Crews searched until 7:40 p.m. on Saturday and then returned at 9 a.m. Sunday. A crew of 20 scoured 12 miles along the river on foot and with a drone. They did not enter the high and swift flowing river because they did not find any clues or any information pointing to a specific part of the river, according to he Sheriff’s Office.

The search was called off  about 3 p.m. No further large-scale searches are planned. unless new information becomes available about Smith’s location. Larimer County’s emergency services team will monitor river conditions to determine when to search again.

Rivers throughout Larimer County are running high and fast. Information on river safety is available at larimer.org/sheriff/support-services/emergency-services-and-fire-rescue/river-safety

Associated Press

July 26, 2019

FORT COLLINS, Colo. (AP) — Authorities have confirmed that a body recovered from northern Colorado’s Poudre (POO’-dur) River is that of a rafter who went missing late last month.

The Fort Collins Coloradoan reports 57-year-old David Smith’s body was found near Poudre Park on Tuesday afternoon. The Fort Collins man went missing after his raft capsized about 4 miles (6.4 kilometers) upstream June 29.

 The Fort Collins Coloradoan reports a kayaker found the body near Poudre Park on Tuesday afternoon. Deborah Reisdorff, a spokeswoman for the Larimer County coroner’s office, says the body has not been identified, and investigators have not indicated if they believe it is that of 57-year-old David Smith.

Search and rescue crews looked for him along 12 miles (19 kilometers) of the river, using a drone, a helicopter and divers.

Smith’s death marks the second on the Poudre this year. Less than a week after Smith went missing, 26-year-old Matthew Spates, also of Fort Collins, drowned in the river.