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After deadly weekend on Colorado rivers, rafting enthusiast stresses safety

One woman died in a rafting accident on the Poudre River Thursday; one man died and another man is missing after a rafting accident along the Colorado River on Saturday.
After deadly weekend on Colorado rivers, rafting enthusiast stresses safety
Posted at 5:39 AM, Jun 03, 2024

IDAHO SPRINGS — On Thursday, a woman died after a rafting accident along the Poudre River in Larimer County. The raft she was in struck a bridge pylon, according to investigators.

She was the first known rafting death of the season.

Days later on Saturday, one man died and another man is missing following a rafting accident along the Colorado River in the Yarmony Rapids area.

The Grand County Coroner's Office identified the man who died as Brent Boulter, a 56-year-old man from Aurora.

Thomas Russell, a 61-year-old man from Littleton, was identified as the man who is still missing as of Sunday evening.

According to the Grand County Sheriff's Office, preliminary reports show that neither of the men were wearing life jackets at the time.

The Grand County Sheriff's Office is urging anyone recreating in the Radium or Rancho Del Rio area to report any sightings of Russell by calling or texting 911.

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Local News

Woman dies in rafting accident on Poudre River Thursday

Robert Garrison
4:10 PM, Jun 02, 2024

The tragedies over the last few days have those who love whitewater rafting emphasizing the importance of safety on the water.

"Someone lost a friend, or a relative, family member. And that's really hard. And it's an accident, you know, so it's sudden," said Alan Blado, who owns Liquid Descent Rafting, a company that's been around for 17 years with locations in Idaho Springs and Kremmling.

Blado said every summer, he is saddened to hear people have died while rafting in Colorado.

“Rafting is inherently dangerous," said Blado. “The best way to mitigate most of the risk is to go with a professional, to go with an outfitter that's licensed by the State of Colorado.”

Blado said in Colorado, rafting guides must have 50 hours of certified training, CPR certification, and first aid instruction. He requires his guides to have at least 100 hours of training.

Several water rescues across Colorado this past weekend

“The more years you've been on the river, the more things you've seen, the more qualified you are to deal with situations," Blado said.

Blado said safety starts with the gear — and that hypothermia is a big concern at this time of year in Colorado, since the water is so cold.

“We use the thermal wetsuits. We have splash jackets. If it's really cold, we use fleece jackets. And then of course, the personal flotation devices and helmets. But also, with the boats, you know, you want to use high quality rafts that aren't going to puncture or tear, you want to have foot cones in the seats. That's kind of like a seat belt, that's going to cut down on the amount of people that fall into the water," Blado explained. “You need to have protocols set up for if you do have swimmers, you need to have a plan of how to get them out of the water as soon as possible. That can involve shore safety, people with ropes on shore, or safety kayakers that are paddling alongside the rafts to help in the event of a rescue.”

Blado insisted the most important safety feature is the guide on the raft. He recommends calling a company before booking a trip and asking questions about the quality of the gear and guides.

“You can also do some checking on safety records through the state, the Department of Wildlife and Colorado State Parks is who licenses the outfitters and they have records. Anytime there's an incident on the river, an accident report is filled out and sent to the state. So, they have records of all that," said Blado.

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Local News

Man dead, another missing after raft capsizes on Colorado River near Kremmling

Robert Garrison
9:27 AM, Jun 02, 2024

Blado said there was a solid snowpack this year, meaning rivers are running at higher levels and the season will last longer. However, he hopes that means Coloradans will take the appropriate precautions before getting into a raft.

Blado's heart goes out to the families and friends of those who died on the water in the last few days.

After deadly weekend on Colorado rivers, rafting enthusiast stresses safety


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