Colorado River claims lives in Grand and Garfield counties |

Colorado River claims lives in Grand and Garfield counties

Two bodies were pulled from the Colorado River Saturday, one in Grand County near the Eagle County line in Radium, and another in Garfield County.

An Avon couple were rafting the river with friends, and as they cleared the Needles Eye Rapids between Pumphouse and Radium, they spotted two inflatable rubber canoes flipped over, and a life jacket floating in the water a little way ahead of them.

Needles Eye Rapids are Class 3 in that area, said Grand County Sheriff Rodney Johnson.

The rafters spotted one man near the side of the river, exhausted after struggling to get out of the water. About the same time, they spotted a second man, motionless and floating in the river.

They pulled him into their boat and started CPR, but could get no response.

They continued administering CPR as they took him in their boat down the river to the Radium boat takeout, but still got no response.

They were met at Radium by emergency medical technicians and Grand County Sheriff’s deputies, who transported the body.

Sheriff Johnson said that’s a heavily used part of the river.

“It’s not unusual to have one death a year,” Johnson said.

Grand County Coroner Brenda Bock identified the victim as William Fliris, 67, of Lusk, Wyo.

“He was found pretty quickly and they did everything they could, but it was already too late,” Bock said.

He had all the gear and helmets, but his life jacket was not securely fitted, officials said.

Garco river death

About that same time Saturday afternoon several miles downriver in Garfield County, the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office was notified that a body had been found in the Colorado River.

The body was discovered by a group of rafters who called 911 from the location using a cell phone.

The body was found on the Colorado River parallel to I-70 between mile marker 90 and 91.

A search and rescue was called in to retrieve the body.

At this time no foul play is suspected, said the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office. On Monday afternoon, the Garfield County coroner was trying to identity the individual.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

The Sky-Hi News strives to deliver powerful stories that spark emotion and focus on the place we live.

Over the past year, contributions from readers like you helped to fund some of our most important reporting, including coverage of the East Troublesome Fire.

If you value local journalism, consider making a contribution to our newsroom in support of the work we do.