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Three taken to hospital after commercial raft flips

Pitkin County Trails and Open Space

Three people were taken to the hospital and treated for hypothermia after the raft they were flipped in the Roaring Fork River. Aspen Public Radio’s Carolyn Sackariason reports.

Several people were in the commercial raft owned by Blazing Adventures when it flipped in what’s known as the “Snowmass Hole” near Basalt. The Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office received a report around 11 a.m. that all of the boat’s occupants were safely on the riverbank. But a second 911 call reported that three of them were suffering from hypothermia. Rescue crews from Basalt Fire responded along with the sheriff’s office and Basalt police.


The boat flipped in what’s known as the “Toothache” stretch of the Fork, which is a class III rapid during normal flows. It was running around 1,060 cubic feet per second, or CFS, during Monday’s spring runoff. The stretch fluctuates between 200 and 1,400 CFS.


Pitkin County Sheriff’s Deputy Alex Burchetta says river levels are expected to rise as temperatures increase this weekend. He advised people to continue to take heed of the dangers the high flows present.


“The warning should go out to everybody who is using the river, not just commercial enterprises that the river is very dangerous right now. It’s very high and expected to run high through the rest of the week," he says.


Blazing Adventures owner Tim McMahon says safety is the top priority in his company and every guide is trained to know how to deal with boat flips. Blazing is not currently running the Slaughterhouse run on the upper Fork because it would require portaging around a bridge.


Temperatures are expected to reach the 80s in Aspen this weekend. Carolyn Sackariason, Aspen Public Radio news.