Grand Junction kayaker dies on Fryingpan River

Jun 21, 2015

A Grand Junction man fell out of his inflatable kayak Sunday and into a fast-flowing Frying Pan River. Resuscitation efforts were unsuccessful and he was pronounced dead.
Credit Creative Commons/Flickr/Carolyn Cuskey

Rescuers were unsuccessful Sunday (6/21) in reviving a man who fell out of a kayak on the fast-flowing Fryingpan River. 

The man and a friend began floating the river at Seven Castles, about five miles from downtown Basalt. The friend called 911 around 3:30 in the afternoon after the two became separated. Officials with the Basalt Fire Department say witnesses at a riverside restaurant in Basalt saw the unoccupied boat and the man’s body. A group of bystanders downstream pulled him from the river and worked to resuscitate him. The efforts continued when emergency crews arrived, but the man was pronounced dead on-scene. An official with Basalt Fire says flows on the Fryingpan were extremely high. The man was from Grand Junction.

Authorities warned last week about high water throughout the watershed. They’re recommending people stay 25 feet away from high-flowing rivers. 

Press Release from Basalt Rural Fire Protection District:

Frying Pan River Incident 06/21/2015

On June 21st, 2015 at 15:23 hours Basalt & Rural Fire Protection District’s (B&RFPD) swiftwater rescue team was dispatched to a blue kayak and body in the Frying Pan River at the Pueblo Bridge in downtown Basalt. B&RFPD apparatus and personnel were on-scene within six minutes and first arriving emergency personnel continued resuscitative efforts initiated by bystanders.

Three ambulances, two command vehicles and 14 personnel from B&RFPD were on scene to assist. Resuscitative efforts from B&RFPD personnel were continued for approximately thirty minutes; however, unfortunately these proved to be unsuccessful and the victim was pronounced on-scene.

Two kayakers from Grand Junction put in at Severn Castles, five miles up the Frying Pan River at approximately 14:15. The victim was kayaking in a blue inflatable kayak and was wearing a helmet, personal flotation device (PFD) and wet suit. At some point the kayakers lost contact. Concerned, the second kayaker stopped at a house along the Frying Pan Road to make a 911 call.

The kayaker was first seen floating unconscious down the Frying Pan River shortly after his blue inflatable kayak was spotted by a bicyclist on Pueblo Bridge. The bicyclist flagged down a motorist to make the 911 call. Meanwhile multiple other people from a riverside restaurant in downtown Basalt spotted the kayak and body and also called 911.

Two civilians jumped into the Frying Pan River as the body floated by. They managed to get the body to shore approximately 50 yards from the confluence of the Roaring Fork River and the Frying Pan River. These bystanders immediately started CPR and resuscitative efforts were continued by Basalt Police Department and Eagle County Sheriff Department until B&RFPD personnel arrived on-scene.

While the actions of the bystanders were heroic, B&RFPD strongly advises to never enter the water in this type of situation and current water conditions as this could result in further loss of life. Appropriate personal protective equipment should always be worn. At minimum this should include a PFD. Immediate bystander CPR gives the victim the best chance of survival and we thank those bystanders involved in the rescue and resuscitative efforts.

Basalt & Rural Fire Protection District was assisted by the following agencies: Basalt Police Department and Eagle County Sheriff Department. Carbondale & Rural Fire Protection District and Aspen Ambulance District provided District coverage while resources were dedicated to the incident.