Matthew Classen, 27, of Greeley was originally reported missing Tuesday evening, after attempting to run Kirshbaum Rapids. Friends saw Classen's boat overturn in the whitewater, but when the kayak surfaced, he was no longer in it. Classen's body was found at about 10 o'clock Wednesday morning, about 600 yards downstream from the Pumphouse boat launch. Classen was a first-timer on Gore's waters, and had already had a swim just above Pyrite Rapid that day before heading into Kirshbaum. Although Toothaker said Classen's swim was mild, the Wave Sport X that he was paddling was lost along with a throw-rope
Mark Gober, who was with the victim's party but had decided to walk out, watched his group from the railroad bed as they attempted Kirschbaum Rapid. His description follows: A kayaker, running third in a group of four, ran a different chute and slammed into an underwater rope that had strung itself across a chute. He was violently peeled from his boat and forced to swim. The two paddlers below chased him and his gear. Matt Classon, 27, ran next. He, too, hit the rope hard. His boat floated free, but his body did not. Gober's group made an extensive search of the entire area, checking eddies and probing the upstream faces of rock. In the process they found a pinned kayak. Thinking that their friend could have been pinned underneath it, they pulled it free using a Z-drag. They found nothing. Eventually they paddled out and notified authorities.
Rescuers began a search early the next morning, and Classon's body was found miles downstream, near the takeout. His helmet had been torn off and he had a serious head wound.
This is not the first death resulting from an abandoned throw rope in the river. There was much speculation on Mountainbuzz.com about the source of the rope. Apparently it had nothing to do with the pinned kayak. Fortunately, a group of boaters who ran the river later were able to remove this hazard. If your rope becomes snagged, spare no efforts to remove it. The rope can be cut very close to the point of entanglement and left in place as a last resort.