Elyssa McCreight Identified in Fatal Accident on Boneyard Rapids

A Facebook photo of Elyssa McCreight.
A Facebook photo of Elyssa McCreight.
Facebook

Update: Elyssa McCreight, 32, has been identified as the victim of a fatal June 5 rafting accident on an Eagle County portion of the upper Colorado River known as Boneyard Rapids. She's the second person to die rafting in Colorado this season, following a death on April 30, and one of two people killed on a state waterway over a two-day period. Bryan Reim was swept away at the Potholes, a popular western Colorado recreation site, on June 3.

According to her LinkedIn page, McCreight moved to the Vail valley from the greater Pittsburgh area. She graduated from that city's LaRoche College prior to launching a career in real estate. Her most recent posts on Facebook spotlight Colorado high-country locations in photos of outdoor activities such as skiing and hiking. They depict McCreight as active, athletic and clearly thrilled to be living in such a beautiful place.

As we've reported, the series of events that took McCreight's life began unspooling on Monday, June 5, along a portion of the upper Colorado River between Yarmony and Rancho del Rio with a particularly chilling nickname: "Boneyard Rapids."

Just before 4 p.m. on the 5th, the Eagle County Sheriff's Office notes, authorities received a call about an accident involving what's described as a large group of private boaters and kayakers.

One of the boats high-centered on an abandoned raft that had been left behind some time earlier; it was pinned against a rock. The occupants of the boat tried to swim out of the rapids, but McCreight got trapped before she could escape, the ECSO reveals.

Approaching Boneyard Rapids.
Approaching Boneyard Rapids.

McCreight's body was recovered around 5 p.m. She didn't respond to resuscitation efforts.

June is an especially dangerous month for rafting in Colorado, as shown in data collected by the American Whitewater website. Three of the ten 2016 rafting fatalities in the state took place that month, along with three serious injuries. The site also shows that six of nine 2015 rafting deaths and eight of fourteen in 2014 happened in June.

Because of this, warnings issued by the Eagle County Sheriff's Office are particularly important. The office notes that "spring and summer brings warmer temperatures, snow melt, run off and high water in all our mountain streams and rivers. The dangers of high water run off can be fatal, as debris and river conditions change daily. It is important to be prepared, alert and familiar with proper safety equipment and how to rescue yourself and others when recreating in high water areas."

The ECSO adds: "Along with high water concerns, boaters can often be separated from their boat and swept downstream. While rescue efforts are focused on the life of a boater, often an unoccupied boat that continues to float downstream can create a scare to the community and first responders."

Here is rafting fatality and injury information for 2016 and 2017 to date from American Whitewater.

State/Country Date Name/Age River/Section Flow/Class Boat/Cause Factor/Injury Type/Private
CO United States 2017-06-05 Unidentified Woman 30 Colorado River N/A Raft-
Pinned in Boat against Rock or Sieve
High Water/ Fatal Private
CO United States 2017-04-30 Unidenified Man Arkansas 11. Parkdale Launch to Canon City High IV Raft-
Flush Drowning
High Water/ Fatal Commericial
CO United States 2016-08-11 Jamie Page 25 Colorado 02. Gore Canyon Medium V Whitewater Kayak-
Flush Drowning
Failed Rescue/ Fatal Private
CO United States 2016-07-24 Patrick Kelsall 19 Colorado 02. Gore Canyon Other-
Unknown
Other/ Fatal Private
CO United States 2016-07-15 Unidentified Man Cache La Poudre 05. Narrows Picninc Ground to Steven's Gulch Access Medium V Other-
Unknown
Failed Rescue/ Fatal Private
CO United States 2016-07-05 Lynn Marks 52 Arkansas 03. The Numbers Low Inflatable Kayak-
Flush Drowning
Poor Group / Scene Management/ Fatal Private
CO United States 2016-07-03 Sandra Johnson 51 Arkansas 06. Fisherman's Bridge access to Stone Bridge access IV Raft-
Flush Drowning
Other/ Fatal Commericial
CO United States 2016-06-25 Nate White Daisy Creek 01. 40' Waterfall to confluence with Slate River V Whitewater Kayak-
Impact/Trauma
/ Spinal Injury Injury Private
CO United States 2016-06-24 Sandy Wolder 63 Green 2- Lodore to Echo Park Medium IV Raft-
Swim into Strainer
Other/ Fatal Commericial
CO United States 2016-06-20 Unidentified Man Vallecito Creek 01. 1 mile above Vallecito CG V Whitewater Kayak-
Impact/Trauma
Other/ Injury Private
CO United States 2016-06-15 James Abromitis 58 Roaring Fork 02. Slaughterhouse High IV Raft-
Flush Drowning
High Water/ Fatal Commericial
CO United States 2016-06-13 Sandra Johnson 52 Arkansas 06. Fisherman's Bridge access to Stone Bridge access Medium Raft-
Flush Drowning
Cold Water/ Fatal Commericial
CO United States 2016-06-11 Unidentified Woman Clear Creek 03. Lawson to Idaho Springs High IV Raft-
Flush Drowning
Other/ Injury Commericial
CO United States 2016-05-22 Debra Lynn Brymer 61 Arkansas 11. Parkdale Launch to Canon City IV Raft-
Flush Drowning
Cold Water/ Fatal Commericial
CO United States 2016-05-06 Unidentified Man 35 South Platte VI Whitewater Kayak-
Caught in Low Head Dam Hydraulic
Inexperience/ Fatal Private


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