Eric Ashby

A raft reportedly flipped in the Royal Gorge June 28 and may have led to the disappearance of a Colorado Springs man, according to a press release issued Wednesday by the Fremont County Sheriff’s Office.

Fremont County deputies received a call June 28 reporting that a personal raft had flipped in Sunshine Falls, a Class IV-V rapid on the Arkansas River in the Royal Gorge.

The caller said he watched the raft flip, saw multiple people go into the river, and all but one person made it to shore. The caller was not involved in the group and was only watching from a distance.

Fremont County deputies along with the Cañon City Fire Department and Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers responded to the area, but upon arrival no one was on scene.

Emergency personnel, including crews from the sheriff’s office, the fire department, the Fremont County Search and Rescue swiftwater rescue team and CPW searched the river and used a helicopter to search from where the raft flipped downstream to the Pink House Recreation Site.

The crews found nothing, and no one besides the first caller ever called to report a river accident or missing rafter.

Fremont County deputies received a phone call July 8 from a family wanting to report that Eric Ashby, 31, of Colorado Springs was missing after the family received information from friends that Ashby was in a river accident June 28.

“After further investigation and information, we believe these to be the same event, and the Fremont County Sheriff’s Office is now investigating a missing person’s case as a body has not been recovered,” Fremont County Sgt. Megan Richards said in a press release issued Wednesday.

Ashby was not wearing a life vest or helmet at the time of the river accident, according to the release.

The sheriff’s office has listed Ashby as missing and is not investigating the incident as a criminal case, Richards said.

The sheriff’s office asks that anyone with information call Detective Jenkins at 719-276-5556 or Fremont County Crime Stoppers at 719-275-STOP.

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