Douglas Wayne Maass, 57, of Austin, Texas, died Friday in the Arkansas River just downstream from Salida after falling out of a private raft that flipped over.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife reported in a press release that Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area river rangers responded to a report that a man was seen floating face down in the river near the Bear Creek Rapid.

The AHRA search and rescue operation was initiated around 12:45 p.m. after a 911 call reported a private boat had flipped and five people were in the water.

Kayakers floating with the raft were able to rescue four of the people, but the fifth was carried downstream.

AHRA staff along with Chaffee County fire, EMS and sheriff’s deputies, Salida police and fire, U.S. Forest Service and the Colorado State Patrol all began searching on land and in the water. 

AHRA rescued Maass near the Wellsville bridge and began life-saving measures. Medical personnel arrived soon after and took over. However, Maass never recovered and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Although the incident scene was in Fremont County, the remains were turned over to the Chaffee County coroner for identification and determination of a cause of death.

Chaffee County Chief Deputy Coroner Randy Amettis said the autopsy Saturday revealed that drowning was the cause of death.

“We offer our condolences to the family of this person,” said Tom Waters, AHRA operations manager. “And I appreciate the efforts of the six CPW rangers and all the other responders who initiated the search and rescue and tried to save this man. Sadly, they were unsuccessful.”

It was the third boating-related death in the AHRA in 2019.

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