It occurred at the Rifle underpass just upstream from the boat ramp. Due to changes in the river this year the water is flowing right into the bridge pylons and it is very difficult to get to the boat ramp. I myself was smashed into them and had to highside but was able to get off the pylon and to the ramp. My thoughts go out to the victim, family and friends.
It happened at the Rifle bridge just above the boatramp. We ran it yesterday and saw all of the commotion when we set up our shuttle. I assumed they were just practicing as the Summit County swift water rescue truck was there but I talked to one if the police officers and he told me what happened. He said the boat was still there just under the surface and to be careful because it was blocking the channel. When we floated down there it was almost dark. The left channel no longer runs at this level so you have to go right. I scouted it on the left only because of what had happened. Otherwise I wouldn't have given it a second thought. The channel changed this year in the high water. The current falls off a shelf directly into two of the 60 foot long bridge pilings. You have to get to the second portal from the left to get to the boatramp. It looked doable in a raft but super sketchy in a heavy dory. There is very little margin for error even without the submerged boat and the water looked too shallow to get good purchase on the oars. We walked the boat down over the rocks and sand on the left side. I recommend a mandatory scout on the left side if you float this section.
I don't know anything about the victim but send my condolences to his family and friends.
I just got the scoop from a buddy of mine in the valley.
The boat that went down was the second of a two boat group. The first boat tried to take the far left channel and grounded, the second boat was following close and tried to make a move to the right to avoid the grounded boat. They weren't able to make the move and ended up pinned on the bridge pylon and all 3 occupants of the second boat ended up swimming. The two passengers managed to swim to shore but the oarsman didn't and hasn't been seen since. I'm told the missing party is a 52 year old man from Texas.
A forum community dedicated to whitewater kayaking, boating, and rafting enthusiasts. Come join the discussion about safety, routes, gear, models, styles, gear swaps, reviews, accessories, classifieds, and more!