Missing rafter in Dinosaur located, identified
The body of a 62-year-old Aurora woman was in the process of being recovered from the Green River in Dinosaur National Monument on Sunday, according to park officials.
Sandra Wolder’s body was found, trapped underwater “in the roots of a large downed tree in the river,” stated a news release from the National Park Service. “The team is currently working on retrieving the victim’s body and will be transporting it by raft to Echo Park.”
Dinosaur National Monument spans across two states in the northwest corner of Colorado and near Vernal, Utah.
On Friday, search and rescue staff from the National Park Service, Moffat County Sheriff’s Office and a commercial outfitter responded to a report of a missing rafter at Disaster Falls on the Green River in Dinosaur National Monument.
According to a news release issued Saturday by monument staff, a raft guided by one of the commercial companies operating in the monument, Adrift Adventures, flipped at about 5 p.m. Friday at Disaster Falls on the Green River in the Canyon of Lodore.
“The Green River was flowing at approximately 8,600 cubic feet per second at the time of the incident. Cell phone reception is not available in this area and even satellite phone reception is not reliable,” the news release stated.
A group of approximately 20 people, including five guides, were on the rafting trip in multiple rafts at the time of the incident, said Dan Johnson, public information officer and chief of interpretation and visitor services for Dinosaur National Monument.
All occupants made it to the shore except for a female occupant of the raft. The raft was pinned to a rock in the river due to the force of the current. The trip leader notified the monument about the incident by satellite phone.
Communication was made difficult due the remoteness of the location, Johnson said.
“They conducted what search they could and then called the park service,” he said, noting that a helicopter sweep of the area by Classic Lifeguard Air Ambulance took place Friday evening until darkness overtook their efforts.
The search and rescue team was mobilized at Gates of Lodore in preparation to launch Saturday morning with members of National Park Service, the sheriff’s office and a guide with Dinosaur River Expeditions, dislodging the raft to determine if the missing party was trapped beneath it, which she was not.
Members of Colorado Parks and Wildlife are also standing by to provide assistance, Johnson said.
Disaster Falls has a class III to IV rating depending on river levels according to the International Scale of River Difficulty and is located in a remote section of the Canyon of Lodore, approximately seven miles from the river launch at the Gates of Lodore, according to the release.
“Rafting is a safe activity as long as people follow precautions, but rivers are pretty wild and dynamic places, and it’s always changing,” Johnson said. “Our companies definitely have strong reputations for taking thousands upon thousands out on the river. We don’t know exactly what happened on this instance yet, but we’ll definitely be looking into that and how someone got ejected.”
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