July 17, 2007

Death on the Arkansas

Tracy Harmon, my former colleague at the Canon City Daily Record, summarized this year's rafting deaths on the Arkansas River, a story that several Colorado newspapers have picked up.

Hers is a story that a Fremont or Chaffee County reporter can write every year. While not a big river, the Arkansas is cold and fast in its upper reaches (above Cañon City), and it kills a few boaters every year.

I wrote my own version in about 1990 and got a telephone call in response from Jerry Mallett, now a Chaffee Co. commissioner but back then a p.r. man for the rafting industry.

Why was I writing a "negative" story about the wholesome rafting industry, which does so much for the local economy and blah blah blah?

Jerry, I said, why do so many rafting companies have the word "Adventure" in their names? It seems to me that without at least a remote risk of death, it's not really an adventure.

We never did see eye to eye.

I wonder if Tracy got a similar call from whoever has that job now.

1 comment:

mdmnm said...

I've made quite a few trips with commercial rafting companies on rapids ranging up to Class V, including Numbers, Narrows, and Brown's Canyon on the Arkansas. Most of the companies I've been with have been good, but things happen. Given the volume of rafters on the Arkansas, I'm surprised there haven't been a similar number of fatalities or serious injuries every year. I've gotten to swim a couple of times and it's pretty scary. On the other hand, as you point out, it is an adventure and a big draw is that surge of adrenaline when you approach the horizon line and start digging in!