DINOSAUR I Search and rescue staff located a body matching the description of a rafter missing since Friday evening in Dinosaur National Monument.
Sandra (Sandy) Wolder, age 62, of Aurora, Colo., 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 p.m. on Sunday, 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. As of Sunday evening, the team was still working to retrieve the victim’s body, which was transported by raft to Echo Park.
At approximately 5 p.m. on Friday, 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 on-site at approximately 10:30 a.m. 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.
The staff at Dinosaur National Monument would like to express 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 Sheriff’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.