LARIMER COUNTY, Colo. — Nine people were rescued from the Poudre River on Thursday afternoon, but one of them was pronounced dead at Medical Center of the Rockies early Friday.
At 3:17 p.m. Thursday, the Poudre Fire Authority (PFA) and partner agencies were dispatched to the Poudre River near Lions Open Space after learning that multiple rafters were in need of help.
The first PFA engine arrived at the scene at 3:21 p.m. and crews started searching the area for the rafters.
They found eight people on an “island-like structure” in the river about a quarter mile east of the Overland Trail, according to the PFA. A ninth person was found in a tree in the river.
One person in the group was getting CPR when responders found them, and they were able to take over.
All nine people were rescued. One person was transported to Medical Center of the Rockies by a Lifelife helicopter.
The Larimer County Coroner's Office said Friday the man had died at the hospital just before 4 a.m. The office identified him as Matthew Spates, 26, of Fort Collins and said his cause of death was an accidental fresh water drowning.
In total, 27 PFA firefighters helped in the rescue.
PFA said river rescues are particularly intense for responders because they require many hands and resources. While the fire department never recommends river recreation on the Poudre, it has offered safety tips if you choose to spend time on or near the river:
· Always wear a personal flotation device
· Remember that the water is pretty cold — about 48 degrees — and hypothermia is a real threat
· If you’ll be traveling down the river, scout it out beforehand to notice any obstacles you may experience
· Do not drink alcohol near the river
· Never underestimate the power of the water
· If somebody is caught in fast-moving water, reach for them or throw something out for them. Do not go into the water. Call 911 with as many details as possible about your location.