Grim weekend in Colorado’s fast-moving rivers with three dead, one missing

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South Platte River.

DENVER — It was a deadly weekend in fast-moving Colorado rivers as three men were killed and another man went missing in tubing, kayaking and rafting accidents.

Near Pueblo, a 23-year-old Parker man was killed while tubing on the Arkansas River on Sunday.

Steven Kelly was tubing near the Cottonwood picnic area on the east side of Lake Pueblo State Park when he died about 11:30 a.m., the Pueblo County Coroner’s Office said.

Firefighters said the river was moving three times faster than usual on Father’s Day weekend.

Also Sunday, a Grand Junction man was killed after falling out of his inflatable kayak on the Fryingpan River in the Western Slope town of Basalt.

The Basalt & Rural Fire Protection District said the kayaker was wearing a helmet, life jacket and wetsuit when he went into the river with a friend in the Seven Castles area of the Fryingpan Valley.

The man became separated from his friend and his body was later seen flowing down the river by several people who called 911.

Officials identified this man on Tuesday as 63-year-old Jerry Young, who was a ski instructor in Snowmass.

Two civilians who saw the body from a riverside restaurant in Basalt jumped into the river and were able to get the body to shore about 50 yards from the confluence of the Roaring Fork and the Fryingpan rivers.

CPR was administered, but Young was declared dead at the scene.

Basalt Fire Division Chief Richard Cornelius said the fast-moving rivers are dangerous for anyone, including civilians trying rescues.

“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,” Cornelius said in a news release.


In northwestern Colorado, a 34-year-old man from Denver fell into the Green River in Dinosaur National Monument in Moffat County while on a rafting trip Saturday.

Four members of 16-member private trip fell into the water after their raft flipped in the Birth Canal area of Triplet Falls. Three of the four were able to swim to shore and recover the raft.

The Denver man was seen at the base of the rapid before disappearing, Dinosaur National Monument said in a news release.

The Moffat County Coroner’s Office found the missing body of the victim and identified him on Tuesday as Richard Francis Zinter.


The group spent several hours searching for the man before going downstream to seek assistance. A response team began a search for the man on Monday morning in Triplet Falls, which has a Class III difficult rating and is in a remote location of the monument.

One accident left a man missing.

And in Sheridan, a 20-year-old ex-Marine fell into the South Platte River on Saturday afternoon and he remained missing as of Tuesday afternoon.

Joe Goodwin was tubing in the part of the river known at the Union Chutes, where the water is running high and very fast. The Sheridan Police Department announced Sunday the search had been suspended.

Several witnesses attempted to rescue Goodwin but were unable to do so because of the swift current. He was last seen about one-quarter mile north of Union Avenue floating in the river.

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