Body pulled from Roaring Fork River near Basalt
June 13, 2011
BASALT – A man’s body was recovered from the Roaring Fork River adjacent to Willits Lane in the midvalley Sunday afternoon, and authorities are investigating to piece together what happened to him.
Basalt Police Chief Roderick O’Connor said the incident appeared to be an accidental drowning. The Eagle County coroner’s office was examining the body Sunday evening to make sure foul play wasn’t involved, O’Connor said.
It was unknown where, when and under what circumstances the man entered the river, O’Connor said. Authorities do not believe he was rafting or kayaking. He was dressed in street clothes, authorities said.
Police were able to identify the man, but his name wasn’t released last night. Authorities said he does have longtime connection to the Roaring Fork Valley. O’Connor said police also had contact with the man at the beginning of last week when he fell while intoxicated and suffered an injury in a Basalt park.
A call was made to authorities on Sunday at 4:43 p.m. about a body in the Roaring Fork River at Basalt. “We were paged out to a man who had just floated under the Midland Avenue Bridge, face down and unconscious,” said Jerry Peetz, Basalt deputy fire chief. The reporting party said the man was wearing a backpack but no personal floatation device was visible, according to Peetz.
The Basalt Fire Department’s swift water rescue team immediately placed a swimmer in the river at the Lower Two Rivers Bridge, near the intersection of Highway 82 and Lower Two Rivers Road. Other rescue authorities were stationed at a pedestrian bridge adjacent to the highway bridge. Peetz said officials on the bridge saw the man’s backpack float by. Shortly after, they saw the body surface briefly in the roiling, runoff-swollen river but it happened so quickly the rescue team member in the water couldn’t retrieve the body under extremely difficult conditions, Peetz said.
Members of the Basalt and Carbondale swift water rescue teams were also stationed at the raft put-in at Gilman Park, across from the Federal Express Building on Willits Lane. The man was pulled from the river there at 5:20 p.m. That site is slightly upriver from Hooks Bridge.
“He popped up pretty close to the bank. They went in and got him out right away,” Peetz said, crediting good coordination between the teams. “Everybody did exactly what they are trained to do,” he said.
CPR efforts were started immediately but the man couldn’t be revived. Peetz said victims in cold water rescues have been known to be resuscitated up to an hour after an incident, so life-saving efforts were continued for some time. Members of the rescue team were in contact with an emergency room doctor to report the man’s condition and their efforts to revive him. The doctor eventually advised them to cease the life-saving attempts.
Basalt Police Department is investigating the incident. Deputies from the Pitkin County and Eagle County sheriff’s offices also assisted at the scene.