Search Crew Locates Body of Missing Rafter

Map of Dinosaur with location of incident
Map of Dinosaur National Monument showing location of incident

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News Release Date: June 26, 2016

Contact: Dan Johnson, (435) 781-7702 or (970) 629-3813

Dinosaur, Colorado –Search and rescue staff located a body matching the description of a rafter missing since Friday evening. . Sandra (Sandy) Wolder, age 62, of Aurora, Colorado was an apparent drowning victim at Upper Disaster Falls on the Green River in the Canyon of Lodore within Dinosaur National Monument.

At approximately 1:30 pm on Sunday, June 26, 2016, search and rescue team members located a body matching the description of the missing rafter that was trapped underwater in the roots of a large downed tree in the river. The team is currently working on retrieving the victim's body and will be transporting it by raft to Echo Park. 

 At approximately 5:00 pm on Friday, June 24, 2016, a raft guided by Adrift Adventures, one of the commercial companies operating in the monument, hit a rock and flipped at Upper Disaster Falls. All occupants of the raft made it to the shore except Wolder. The raft became 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. Members of the rafting group searched the shoreline for the missing rafter. 

On Friday evening, Classic Lifeguard Air Ambulance was dispatched to conduct air reconnaissance along the river corridor until darkness prevented further efforts.The search and rescue team mobilized at Gates of Lodore and launched Saturday morning. The team arrived onsite at approximately 10:30 am on Saturday. The team worked to free the pinned raft in case the victim was still trapped in the raft. There was no sign of the victim after the raft was freed. The search and rescue team continued to probe areas around the rapids where the victim's body may have been located.High river flows in the area complicated search efforts by creating hazardous conditions for the search and rescue team. 

The rest of the rafting group continued down river on Saturday and exited the river at Echo Park on Sunday, June 26. 

The staff at Dinosaur National Monument would like to express our sincere condolences to the family and friends of Sandy Wolder, as well as the rest of the members of her rafting group. 

The search and rescue team consisted of three rafts with two Moffat County Sherriff's Office staff, four Dinosaur National Monument Rangers and one commercial guide from Dinosaur River Expeditions. 

Disaster Falls, which has a class III-IV rating depending on river levels according to the International Scale of River Difficulty, is located in a remote section of the Canyon of Lodore, approximately 7 miles from the river launch at the Gates 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.

Additional Background Information:
Disaster Falls is located on the Green River in the Canyon of Lodore in the Colorado portion (Moffat County) of Dinosaur National Monument. It is approximately 7 river miles from the boat launch at the Gates of Lodore. Gates of Lodore is located on the northern boundary of Dinosaur National Monument. 

Disaster Falls was named by Major John Wesley Powell after the wreck of one of his wooden boats at the site on June 9, 1869. The Powell expedition continued their trip by boat down the rest of the Green River to its confluence with Colorado River and on through the Grand Canyon. 

Dinosaur National Monument consists of over 210, 000 acres in both Colorado and Utah. While the monument is best known for the dinosaur quarry and the fossils preserved there, the monument also contains the spectacular canyons along the Green and Yampa rivers. These rivers are famous among whitewater rafters who travel here from across the globe to raft them.

Last updated: June 26, 2016

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