A dad swimming in the river died at a common play wave in Denver two days ago. Here's the article: http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_4223178
. He died right at the main play wave at Union Street, the second drop near the parking lot. Below is a picture of the spot.
His kids were playing at the small beach there, where lots of kids often play, right above the main play wave. The kids waded out and had trouble in the current. He went out and helped them, but he got sucked down the chute that feeds into the main play wave. That was the last he was seen until his body was found the next morning, 75 yards down stream.
The water level was too low for kayak play at 250 cfs. The waves are only good at about 400-500 cfs. The eddy's down there are moderately strong at 500 cfs. Rolling can be a challenge and they can suck a swimmer under briefly, but they aren't that strong and it was only 250 cfs. There is 50 yards of flat water until the next drop.
Having kayaked there often, I find it hard to think someone could die there, especially at that water level. I've even had my 12 year old son swim there through the waves, but with a life vest on.
I surmise that the guy paniced a bit, perhaps swallowed some water, and perhaps wasn't that strong of a swimmer. The paper article also says he used a fair bit of effort to help his kids. It's probably a combination of the items.
It's a shame a kayaker wasn't around because they probably could have easily saved the guy.
One strange thing is that it is about 50 yards until the next drop. Did the dad not float back to the surface in that time, even if he was unconscious? He was eventually found just a little bit below the next drop down. Some people don't naturally float and perhaps the kids didn't know where to look.
And this happened at 6pm, 2 hours before sunset. Even if emergency rescue or people passing by had only 1 hour of sunset left when they started looking, they couldn't find the body 75 yards from where he fell in? The bushes overhand the water a bit, but you can just wade through the water.
I find it hard to believe there is a pin spot down there. I've looked at it when there was only 10 cfs and there was no apparent danger.
My take on this sad incident is that it shows how dangerous water can be and how some people don't have the instinctive responses to deal with white water. A lifevest may have made the difference, although I wouldn't expect someone playing on an innocent beach to use one. Also, a kayaker or even a person on the bike trail with a few water skills could have turned this into a non-incident. Instead it was a death.
Here's a picture from the Denver Post of where he fell in. It's not the best picture, but you have to know the spot to make sense of the picture: