A look at 104 outdoor recreation deaths that occurred in Colorado in 2019

Sunset on snowy Wilson Peak in the San Juan Mountain Range shot from Alta Lake Road, Telluride. Photo Credit: YayaErnst (iStock).

Throughout 2019, at least 104 deaths occurred in the outdoor recreation space in Colorado. That’s a number that’s hard to ignore.

While outdoor recreation offers many rewards, a level of risk typically accompanies many experiences. It’s important to be aware of the risks that exist so that these risks can be diminished or avoided through informed behavior, especially with the growing number of newcomers in the outdoor recreation space.

Here’s a look at a number of deaths that occurred in Colorado’s outdoor recreation space throughout 2019, separated by activity. This list may not be all-encompassing. It’s also worth noting that several people remain missing. Our deepest condolences go out to those that have lost loved ones in Colorado.

Editor’s Note: Here’s an article about why we’ve chosen to cover deaths and injuries that occur in Colorado’s outdoor recreation space.

Skiing/Snowboarding-related deaths

(22 deaths in 2019; 25 during the 2018-19 ski season, 2 thus far during winter of the 2019-2020 season)

January 5 – An avalanche occurs during an avalanche safety course on Red Mountain Pass in the San Juan Mountains. Six skiers are involved, one of whom dies. This is the first death of 2019, but the 6th skier death of the 2018-2019 season. Find additional details here.

January 7 – A 71-year-old male is found unconscious at Breckenridge ski resort, later pronounced dead. This followed two other late-December deaths in which unconscious skiers were found on the slopes. The two previous deaths were determined to be the result of a cardiac issue, with initial signs pointing to a similar cause in the January 7 death. This was the 7th death of the 2018-19 season. Find additional details here.

January 13 – A skier has an accident and dies as a result while backcountry skiing on Quandary Peak. This is the 8th skiing/snowboarding related death of the season. Find additional details here.

January 19 – A skier dies while night skiing at Granby Ranch following a collision with a tree. The 46-year-old was wearing a helmet at the time of the accident. Find additional details here.

January 21 – A skier dies near Aspen after being hit by an avalanche on an estimated 35-degree slope. He was with a partner at the time that was able to dig him out of the snow in about 10 minutes. The skier was unconscious when found. This was the 10th skiing/snowboarding related death of the 2018-2019 season. Find additional details here.

February 10 – A snowboarder dies following a fall in Makaha terrain park at Aspen Snowmass. This was the 11th death of the 2018-2019 ski season. Find additional details here.

February 16 – Two backcountry skiers go missing in the Crested Butte area. It was later determined that the two were killed in an avalanche. Find additional details here.

February 19 – A backcountry skier is killed in an avalanche in the Telluride area. The skier was reportedly skinning on Bear Creek Trail when the avalanche was triggered by snowboarders entering the terrain from above. Find additional details here.

February 20 – An 85-year-old skier dies following a fall at Beaver Creek Resort. The coroner indicated that the cause of her fall was likely due to catching an edge. Find additional details here.

February 23 – A 62-year-old skier dies at Winter Park Resort following a medical incident. This was the 16th skier/snowboarder death of the 2018-2019 ski season. Find additional details here.

February 28 – A Chinese skier is last seen at the Vail Transportation Center with his ski pass scanned later that day. Remains are found in August in Vail’s back bowls that are believed to be his. Find additional details here.

March 3 – A snowboarder dies following an early-morning accident in a closed area of Aspen Mountain. The time of the crash was estimated to be around 1:30 AM. The cause was a collision with a stationary object. Find additional details here.

March 3 – A skier dies after being caught in an avalanche on Lizard Head Pass. They were found buried under several feet of snow. Find additional details here.

March 7 – A backcountry skier dies after being caught in a very large avalanche on Jones Pass during a high-risk point of the season. During the time of the accident, the skier was leading a tour with a backcountry skiing company called Powder Addiction. Find additional details here.

March 14 – A skier is found deceased in trees directly off of a run at Copper Mountain. This was the 20th death of the 2018-2019 ski season. The cause of death was later determined to be acute heart failure. Find additional details here.

March 21 – A juvenile female dies following a collision with a tree at Breckenridge Ski Resort. The skier was later determined to be a 10-year-old tourist. Find additional details here.

March 21 – A 56-year-old man falls in expert terrain at Aspen Highlands. He is initially revived but later died from his injuries. This was the 22nd death of the 2018-2019 ski season. Find additional details here.

April 24 – A snowboarder dies following a fall on Pikes Peak in a couloir east of Little Italy. Find additional details here.

May 17 – A skier dies while heading to a backcountry hut after dark in the Vail backcountry. The accident occurred on New York Mountain. This is believed to be the 24th death of the 2018-2019 ski season. Find additional details here.

December 8 – A 29-year-old woman is killed by an avalanche while backcountry skiing near Cameron Pass. This marks the first skier death of the 2019-2020 season. Find additional details here.

December 16 – A skier is found unconscious at Keystone Resort, later pronounced dead. No signs of trauma were present. Find additional details here.

Water-related deaths

(34 deaths)

May 5 – A 17-year-old dies while trying to save his dog from a canal in Montrose County. Find additional details here.

May 20 – A woman is pulled out of Big Thompson River near Estes Park. She died several hours later at a hospital. Find additional details here.

June 1 – An angler finds a body in the Arkansas River in southern Colorado. Find additional details here.

June 6 – A man dies while rafting on Colorado’s Eagle River. Five men were in the raft at the time, though only four made it back to the bank after the watercraft flipped. This was the 4th water-related death of the year. Find additional details here.

June 7 – A man’s body is found on a watercraft in Pueblo‘s Fountain Creek. Find additional details here.

June 10 – A man dies while on a Boy Scouts of America rafting trip with his son in the Arkansas River. A high-water warning was issued at the time of the accident. The man was wearing a life jacket and helmet. Find additional details here.

June 13 – A drowning occurs at Harvey Gap Reservoir after strong winds knock a 37-year-old out of his boat. Find additional details here.

June 15 – A Colorado Springs woman fell into the Rio Grande while climbing on a nearby rock. She was found 10 days later deceased. Find additional details here.

June 17 – An empty boat is found adrift on Lake Pueblo. The next day, authorities find a deceased person believed to have fallen out. Find additional details here.

June 20 – A woman dies while on a guided rafting trip in the San Juan River near Pagosa Springs. The woman was found 3 miles downstream. Find additional details here.

June 21 – A 31-year-old woman dies while paddle-boarding in swift currents on the Gunnison River. The woman fell off of her paddle-board and got stuck in a tree in the river. Find additional details here.

June 21 – A 65-year-old woman dies in a rafting accident on the Gunnison River near Blue Mesa Reservoir. This is believed to be the 12th water-related death of the rafting season. Find additional details here.

June 27 – A man goes missing in the Rio Grande River near Creede, Colorado. His body is found a month later. Find additional details here.

June 29 – A Fort Collins man goes missing after his raft overturns in Colorado’s Poudre River. He is found dead on July 23rd by a kayaker. Find additional details here.

June 29 – A paddle boarder is swept away in the Chaffee County section of the Arkansas River. Despite attempts to rescue him, he is found dead. Find additional details here.

July 1 – An Arizonan man dies after a raft he’s in flips on Clear Creek, west of Denver. He was on a commercial raft at the time of the incident, which occurred near Idaho Springs. Find additional details here.

July 4 – A 26-year-old dies in a tubing accident on the Poudre River. Eight others were rescued from a mid-river island. Find additional details here.

July 4 – A jet skier goes missing in Jackson Lake State Park. Her body is found days later. Read additional details here.

July 5 – A man dies in the Arkansas River after his raft flips. Five people were thrown from the privately owned raft and kayakers were able to rescue four of them. Find additional details here.

July 5 – A woman dies on the South Platte River near Fort Morgan after riding over a low head dam while tubing. She was unresponsive when pulled out of the water. Find additional details here.

July 6 – A California man dies during a rafting accident on the Green River in the Triplet Falls area. The raft became stuck and the deceased and several others were thrown into the water. Find additional details here.

July 15 – A swimmer disappears under the water while returning to shore. They are found dead within an hour of reporting. Find additional details here.

July 20 – A woman is swept away in a flooding gulch near Lakewood during a rainstorm. Her body is found a day later. Find additional details here.

July 21 – An adult male dies after being swept away by the current in Clear Creek Canyon. He was with a group when swept away, though not utilizing safety gear. Find additional details here.

July 22 – The body of a male is recovered in Blue River near Breckenridge. Find additional details here.

July 25 – The body of a woman that was swept away in a mountain stream on June 27th is found. The woman and her husband were crossing a creek when their Jeep lost power. They attempted to get to shore, but she did not make it. Find additional details here.

July 26 – A man’s body is found pinned against rocks on Eagle River west of Vail. Find additional details here.

July 31 – A man’s body is recovered from Eagle river after historic water levels drop. Once identified, he was determined to be a man missing since May. Find additional details here.

July 31 – A 16-year-old female goes missing in the Devil’s Punchbowl area of the Roaring Fork River. She is found the next day. Find additional details here.

August 7 – The body of an unconscious male is pulled from Boulder Creek. He was transported to a hospital where he was pronounced dead. Find additional details here.

August 7 – The body of an adult male is found on Big Soda Lake near Denver. A capsized boat was also found. Find additional details here.

August 30 – A woman has a seizure and falls into Breckenridge’s Blue River, eventually resulting in her death on September 5. The coroner characterized the death as a medical event that resulted in drowning. Find additional details here.

September 17 – Larimer County Sheriff’s Office gets a report of an overturned kayak and a man in Dowdy Lake. A 76-year-old man is pulled out of the water, but later dies. The man was not wearing a life jacket when he was found. Find additional details here.

September 21 – Personal items are found unattended on the shore of Chatfield Reservoir prompting a search. A man’s body was found hours later. Find additional details here.

Hiking-related deaths

(11 deaths)

March 28 – A 65-year-old male was found at the bottom of a 75-foot cliff at Horsetooth Reservoir. It was later determined that he died of blunt force trauma. The fall was ruled accidental. Find additional details here.

June 23 – A hiker goes missing while reportedly attempting to summit fourteeners in Saguache County. He was found deceased days later. Find additional details here.

July 10 – A 64-year-old male hiker dies after collapsing near a Boulder trail. Find additional details here.

July 10 – A 61-year-old male dies after falling 200 feet on South Maroon Peak near Aspen. The man had summited with peak with two others prior to the accident. Find additional details here.

July 14 – Two hikers are struck by lightning in Boulder County, one dies. Find additional information here.

July 16 – A 71-year-old hiker is reported missing on Torreys Peak, found dead a couple days later at 13,600 feet above sea-level. The man was an experienced hiker and had previously climbed on the peak. Find additional details here.

July 24 – A hiker makes last contact with his family after summiting Kit Carson Peak and Challenger Point – two Colorado fourteeners. He is not heard from again, but is found several days later deceased. Find additional details here.

August 6 – The body of a hiker is found above Mirror Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park. Find additional details here.

September 26 – A 63-year-old man dies during a medical event that occurred on the Manitou Incline trail in Colorado Springs. The Manitou Incline is one of the most strenuous trails in the state. Find additional details here.

September 28 – The son of a well-known Pittsburgh television anchors dies in a fall that occurred while hiking in the Colorado mountains. Find additional details here.

October 9 – A man dies after taking a short hike while on the road to the summit of Pikes Peak. The incident reportedly occurred in the Devil’s Playground area. Find additional details here.

Climbing-related deaths

(6 deaths)

May 18 – A man dies in Eldorado Canyon State Park after falling 100 feet while rock climbing. Find additional details here.

May 18 – A man dies after taking a fall while rock climbing in Poudre Canyon. Find additional details here.

June 6 – A female teen dies following a rappelling accident in Clear Creek Canyon, located near Denver. The accident occurred west of tunnel 5. Find additional details here.

June 28 – A climber dies from a fall at Boulder Falls in Boulder County. Find additional details here.

July 23 – A climber dies in a fall at Colorado Springs’ Red Rock Canyon Open Space. The man was in an area where climbing is prohibited and climbing during slick conditions. Find additional details here.

August 24 – A climber dies after taking a 60-foot fall in Boulder Canyon. The man had completed his climb and was walking along a cliff to find a good spot to descend when a rock gave away. Find additional details here.

Off-highway vehicle-related deaths

(12 deaths)

January 13 – A snowmobile death occurs in Mesa County, Colorado. After failing to make a turn, the rider landed in a canal. Find additional details here.

February 3 – Two men went missing after a snowcat fell into a frozen lake. They were later recovered. Find additional details here.

February 22 – A man is found dead in the area west of Yampa following a snowmobile breakdown. Frigid weather contributed to his death. Find additional details here.

June 3 – A longtime member of the Aspen community is found dead after an apparent snowmobiling accident. The accident occurred on the backside of Aspen Mountain. Find additional details here.

July 19 – One person is killed in an ATV crash near the base of Pikes Peak. Find additional details here.

August 13 – A woman dies in an OHV accident on Corkscrew Pass near Silverton, Colorado. Find additional details here.

September 23 – A Grand Lake woman dies after being ejected from an ATV near the Bull Mountain trailhead. Find additional details here.

September 26 – A 54-year-old man dies following an off-roading accident near Breckenridge. Find additional details here.

September 26 – A 10-year-old boy dies following a wreck in a UTV in Boulder County. Find additional details here.

September 28 – A man dies in an ATV crash near Williams Fork in Grand County. Slick conditions were present at the time of the wreck Find additional details here.

December 18 – An experienced snowmobiler dies after being crushed by his machine on a steep slope. He was utilizing safety gear at the time of the accident. Find additional details here.

Other

(19 deaths)

January 15 – Bull rider Mason Lowe dies following injuries sustained at the National Western Stock Show in Denver, Colorado. Find additional details here.

January 30 – Two die in a recreational vehicle fire. Find additional details here.

March 9 – During the first week of March, a person in Crested Butte died following an ‘urban avalanche’ that occurred while shoveling snow off of a roof. Though not outdoor recreation, this death has been included on our list as ‘urban avalanches’ can be a major concern in outdoor recreation-focused mountain towns around the state of Colorado. Find additional details here.

March 10 – A 17-year-old is killed during a skydiving accident in Penrose, Colorado. The boy was skydiving for the first time and was diving by himself. Find additional details here.

May 27 – A 70-year-old man dies after a 25-30 foot fall during a stop along a scenic road. Find additional details here.

June 17 – A skydiver dies from brain injuries sustained during an accident that occurred the previous September. The skydiver had made more than 6,500 jumps throughout his life. Find additional details here.

June 30 – Motorcycle racer Carlin Dunne dies at the 97th Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. This high-altitude race climbs to the top of Pikes Peak. Find additional details here.

July 22 – A skateboarder is found dead in the mountain town of Winter Park, Colorado. The man was not wearing a helmet at the time of the accident. Find additional details here.

July 24 – A Denver cyclist is hit and killed by a dump truck in Denver. Find additional details here.

August 10 – A man dies while competing in a mountain bike race following a medical event. Find additional details here.

August 12 – A woman dies while camping near Grizzly Peak in the San Juans after a tree falls onto her tent. Find additional details here.

September 4 – A cyclist is killed after a double hit-and-run collision in Aurora that occurred during early morning hours. Find additional details here.

September 20 – A hunter dies after collapsing on a high-altitude ridgeline in Aspen. Find additional details here.

October 7 – A cyclist is left dead after being struck by a vehicle in Denver. Find additional details here.

October 15 – A cyclist is killed in Pagosa Springs. Find additional details here.

November 6 – A hunter is found dead in the California Park area of Routt National Forest. The hunter likely died of natural causes. Find additional details here.

November 13 – A missing man was found dead after plunging off a scenic drive in a vehicle in the Coal Canyon area of Little Book Cliffs Wilderness Study Area. Find additional details here.

November 15 – A bicyclist is hit by a vehicle in Colorado Springs. The injuries led to death. The bicyclist was not wearing a helmet at the time of the accident. Find additional details here.

Editor’s Note: Here’s an article about why we’ve chosen to cover deaths and injuries that occur in Colorado’s outdoor recreation space.

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