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Fatal Boat Accident

Fatal Boat Accident in Royal Gorge Sparks CPW Investigation

CANON CITY, Colo. – A fatal boating incident at the Royal Gorge on the Arkansas River is currently under investigation by Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW), as confirmed by an official press release from the organization. A 60-year-old man sadly lost his life on Monday during a commercial trip involving three boats. The incident happened around 1:30 p.m. near the Boat Eater Rapid, just past the Royal Gorge Bridge (source).

Several passengers reportedly fell out of their boat as they entered the rapid. All passengers were successfully retrieved from the water by other boats participating in the trip. Tragically, one of the rescued individuals, a 60-year-old man, was unresponsive after his rescue.

First responders acted swiftly; a guide pulled the boat to shore, and CPR was administered while another guide fetched a heart defibrillator from a station along the river banks. Efforts to resuscitate the man continued until an emergency vehicle arrived by way of the adjacent railroad tracks. Despite their best efforts, the man was pronounced dead by emergency medical personnel on scene.

The response to the tragic incident was a multi-agency endeavor. In addition to CPW rangers from the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area (AHRA), units from the Fremont County Sheriff’s Office, American Medical Response Cañon City, and the Cañon City Fire Department were on the scene.

“We extend our sympathies to the family and friends of the victim,” said Tom Waters, AHRA park manager. He noted that the victim had been properly equipped with a fitted personal flotation device and a helmet.

The victim’s body was transferred to the Fremont County Coroner’s office, where an official determination of the cause of death will be made, relatives will be notified, and the victim will be identified. Further information about the victim will be released by the coroner’s office.

This tragic accident marks the 12th confirmed water-related death in Colorado in 2023.

Lessons Learned

  • Despite proper safety equipment and immediate emergency response, accidents can still occur, demonstrating the unpredictable nature of water activities.
  • Coordinated rescue efforts are essential in emergency situations, as seen by the immediate response from multiple agencies.

Safety Tips

  • Always wear a properly fitted personal flotation device during water activities.
  • Wear a safety helmet when engaging in potentially hazardous water activities, such as rafting or boating in rapids.
  • Regularly check safety equipment for wear and tear.
  • Ensure that you are physically fit and prepared for strenuous water activities.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and respect the power of water, particularly in areas with rapids.
  • Learn basic water safety and rescue techniques, including CPR.




Alex Derr, Founder of The Next Summit

Alex Derr is an Eagle Scout, climber, and environmental policy expert located in Denver, Colorado. He created The Next Summit to help others stay safe exploring the mountains and advocate to preserve the peaks for the future. Follow him on Linkedin or Twitter or click here to contact him.





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