Iowa man dies while tubing Yampa River in Steamboat Springs |

Iowa man dies while tubing Yampa River in Steamboat Springs

Emergency responders perform CPR on a man Tuesday after he was pulled from the Yampa River. They were not able to revive him. It is suspected the man suffered from a medical problem.
Matt Stensland

— An autopsy will be done Wednesday to determine how an Iowa man died Tuesday while tubing the Yampa River.

Shortly after 2 p.m., firefighters were called to a report of a possible drowning at the James Brown Soul Center of the Universe Bridge. A family vacationing in Steamboat Springs from Shreveport, La., spotted the man near the bridge, where people using outfitter tubes get out of the water.

The family members said the man was floating in the middle of the river and appeared as though he was looking for family. He then fell off his tube but said he was OK.

“I could tell he wasn’t OK,” Jane Jackson said.

He went under the water for a couple of seconds, and Eric Hughes swam over to get his head above the water.

The man was coherent as they brought him out of the water, but then he passed out.

Members of the family, which included Robert Jackson, a doctor, administered CPR until emergency responders arrived.

Steamboat Fire Chief Mel Stewart said they never were able to get a pulse, and the man was pronounced dead at Yampa Valley Medical Center. It is suspected the man suffered from a medical problem. Stewart estimated the man was about 70 years old.

Steamboat Springs Police Department Detective Dave Kleiber said the man was from Iowa and was tubing alone. On Tuesday evening, officials still were trying to notify the man’s family.

The incident was one of several that kept Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue firefighters busy Tuesday.

About 30 minutes before the call at the James Brown Bridge, firefighters were called to help a man who possibly had a heart attack while riding the Howler Alpine Slide at Howelsen Hill.

The man was in his 50s, but it was not clear where he was from.

Kleiber said two people riding the slide found the man lying on the slide, and they started giving CPR. Because the man was a few hundred feet up Howelsen Hill, Routt County Search and Rescue volunteers were called to help. They brought him down on a stretcher on an all-terrain vehicle.

“We don’t know if he was experiencing a medical issue or if there was some trauma involved,” Stewart said.

The man had a heartbeat when he was taken to the hospital, and he was trying to breathe on his own, Stewart said.

During the two incidents, a two-man crew from the West Routt Fire Protection District drove to Steamboat and stood by for about 30 to 45 minutes in case there was another call for help in the Steamboat district.

Also Tuesday, there was a fire at a Steamboat home.

At about 10:30 a.m., firefighters responded to Pamela Lane, where a dryer caught fire.

Stewart said a cyclist was riding along the Yampa River Core Trail and saw smoke coming from the roof of the house. The cyclist did not find anyone inside the home, but he investigated and found more smoke.

“If he hadn’t done that and he kept going, there is a good chance it would have progressed into a full-blown house fire.

Damage was contained to the dryer.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email

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