Poudre River claims life of 14-year-old, uncle

FORT COLLINS - A 14-year-old boy and his 38-year-old uncle are dead after a family fishing trip along the banks of the swollen Poudre River turned tragic Monday afternoon.

The boy's body was found by rafters around 4 p.m., eight miles downstream from where he fell in near the Ouzel Picnic Area in Poudre Canyon, Larimer County's Sheriff's Office Lt. Andy Josey said. The 38-year-old uncle was airlifted to a local hospital where he was later pronounced dead.

The boy fell into the river while fishing. His uncle went in after him and both were carried down river, said Carl Solley from Poudre Canyon Volunteer Fire Protection District, who initially served as incident commander.

The two were seen holding on to each other for about 1.5 miles as the current carried them downstream before becoming separated, Solley said. Two people along the shoreline were able to pull the uncle out at Diamond Rock Picnic Area. It was the last place the boy was seen, Solley said.

Poudre Valley Hospital Emergency Medical Service treated the uncle who was airlifted by AirLink to Poudre Valley Hospital. He died Monday evening. He was not conscious when he was pulled from the river, Solley said. Officials have not released the names of the uncle or the boy.

Neither was wearing a life vest.

A third Good Samaritan who tried to aid in the rescue was taken by ambulance to Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins in good condition, Solley said.

The accident occurred just before noon as picnickers, anglers and river enthusiasts set up for a sunny Memorial Day afternoon on the river.

Jake Stone of Loveland and Caleb Swartz of Fort Collins had arrived about 20 minutes before and together pulled the man out of the river at Diamond Rock Picnic Area.

Several people who had been running alongside the river warned them the man was coming down the river.

"I just hooked an arm and held on to a little willow," said Swartz, who lost a shoe in the rescue attempt. "I was barely thinking. I just reacted."

The men said they did CPR "as best we could" until PVH EMS arrived.

The boy's family, including his parents, remained at Ouzel Picnic Area where the two first went in the river. The boy's mother Ana Canto and father Freddie, stayed close to the family van. The boy's father sat on the ground, clutching his knees and sobbing.

(Copyright © 2014 Fort Collins Coloradoan, All Rights Reserved)


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