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Man dies after raft flips in raging Eagle River near Avon

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June 6, 2019, 4:56 pm

A man died when his raft flipped in the raging Eagle River in EagleVail Thursday afternoon. Four people swam to shore but a fifth rafter was found floating in the runoff-swolen waters.

Rescuers administered CPR near the Westin Riverfront Hotel in Avon, and the man was transported to a nearby hospital, where he died a little later. Here’s the press release from the Eagle County Sheriff’s Department:

Earlier this afternoon first responders received a report of an overturned raft floating in the Eagle River in Eagle-Vail, Colo. Once on scene, first responders learned that there were five occupants on the private raft at the time that it turned over. Four of the occupants emerged from the water but one was unaccounted for. The unaccounted person was located floating near the Eaglebend Apartments in Avon, Colo.

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Several agencies worked diligently to implement a river rescue and were able to locate the fifth individual in the water. Once the individual was pulled from the water CPR was started immediately. The victim was transported to a nearby hospital however the resuscitations efforts were unsuccessful.

The identity of the victim is not being released at this time pending next of kin notifications.

The rivers and creeks throughout Eagle County have reached or will soon be reaching peak water flows; these high waters can be fast and furious with strong undertows and opportunities for even the best and most experienced river runners to find themselves in harm’s way. Remember that accidents can happen, regardless of your skill level and on any type of water, so ERFPD recommends you review the following safety guidelines before heading out:

·         Wear your life jacket and proper headgear! It’s always possible to capsize in any water condition.

·         Assure that your water craft was intended for white water travel and understand the capabilities and limitations of the raft, kayak, or other equipment that you are using.

·         Know the water conditions. Conditions can be very different from day to day and it’s important to know what to expect. If in doubt, get out and scout!

·         Beware of Strainers. Strainers are fallen trees, bridge pilings, undercut rocks or anything else that allows the current to flow through it while holding you. Strainers are deadly!

·         Carry identification that includes your name, phone number, pertinent medical information, and emergency contact information in a waterproof bag. You can also store your cell phone and camera in the bag. Equipment should be labeled with a name and phone number to make it easier to return lost and stolen equipment.

·         Before you leave, make sure you know where you are going. It is also a good idea to tell a responsible person about your plans of where you will be and when you expect to return.

·         If it is your first time on the water, take an on-water course or travel with an experienced person that has navigated that part of the river before. Avoid water conditions beyond your skill level.

·         Check the weather forecast before you leave for your destination so that you can pack the proper equipment. Dress appropriately for weather conditions. Carry extra clothes in a dry bag in case you flip and go for a swim. Hypothermia can be deadly.

·         Never go boating or tubing while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Make sure you bring drinking water and stay hydrated.

·         Plan for emergencies and carry basic first aid. Learn rescue skills necessary to assist others. If you lose equipment, call the non-emergency number for dispatch (970-479-2200) with a detailed description of what piece of equipment was lost and where it was last seen. This helps ensure emergency responders are only dispatched to true rescue situations.

Eagle River Fire Protection District, Eagle County Sheriff’s Office, Avon Police Department, Eagle County Paramedic Services, Vail Mountain Rescue Group, and the Vail Public Safty Communications Center all worked collaboratively on this incident.

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