Rapidly melting snow sends Colorado rivers tumbling from mountains; rafters seek calmer waters

Associated Press

Rapidly melting snow is sending Colorado's rivers tumbling from the mountains, so far claiming the lives of at least 11 people. It's also prompting some rafting companies to seek calmer rapids and stock extra safety gear.

Last year, 17 people died in boating accidents, surpassing Colorado's average of 10 a year.

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But the deaths haven't dampened the attraction of the state's whitewater rafting industry, which drew about half a million people last year and had an economic impact of $160.1 million.

David Costlow, director of the Colorado River Outfitters Association, says having so few deaths with so many people running the rapids amounts to "a hell of a record."

The deaths this year include nine kayakers and rafters, a man tubing near Pueblo and a fisherman swept away in Boulder Creek.

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This story has been corrected to include the full name of the Colorado River Outfitters Association.