Accident Database

Report ID# 50265

  • PFD Not Worn or Present
  • Does not Apply
  • Cold Water
  • High Water

Accident Description

Whitewater tuber dies on re-opened Clear Creek west of Golden, 18th death or disappearance on Colorado waterways

Rescuers searched for man, found him, performed CPR for an hour; Golden fire chief laments “three to four rescues a day” as people flock to mountain waterways for recreation

A man in his 20s died Sunday night after falling off the rubber tube he was riding through whitewater currents along Clear Creek in a mountain canyon west of Denver. Golden Fire Chief Alicia Welch said rescuers tried for more than an hour to revive the man before pronouncing him dead around 8:15 p.m.

It was at least the 18th death or disappearance this year on waterways around Colorado as rafters and others head to the mountains for recreation.

Heavy snow in the Rocky Mountains last winter has led to high flows along rivers, where more and more people go for rafting and tubing.

Golden and Jefferson County rescuers were notified around 5:35 p.m. Sunday that a man had gone missing after tubing on Clear Creek. Racing to the scene, the rescuers began a search and found the man around 7:10 p.m., Welch said.

He was unconscious. Paramedics attempted cardio-pulmonary resuscitation for more than an hour, she said. No other information on the man was made available.

Jefferson County and Golden authorities in early July declared Clear Creek closed for private recreation after water levels rose above 1,200 cubic feet per second (cfs). They later opened up access when water levels decreased in response to public demand.

“We closed it down at the beginning of July for a week. They will close it again if the level gets up to 1,200 cfs,” Welch said.

“Two weeks ago, it went below 1,200 and they opened it back up. We’ve been having three to four rescues a day. It is people getting bounced off their tubes. A lot of kayakers help them out,” she said. “Even though the creek is open, it is very deceiving how powerful and dangerous it is. And people go in there without helmets, without flotation devices. Once they get bounced off that tube, it is very, very dangerous. To go in there without protection is not wise.”

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