Body of missing kayaker found
June 5, 2009
EAST VAIL – Search-and-rescue crews found the body of a missing kayaker around 10 a.m. Friday morning in a creek near East Vail.
The body was identified as Drew Brian Hunter of Vail. He was 29.
Hunter was kayaking with two friends Thursday afternoon in a Class IV part of the Black Gore Creek called the Fish Ladders. The short section of the river has a series of about a dozen drops of a few feet each.
Hunter paddled over one of the drops near the top of the creek and got stuck in a hole – a spot where water pours over an object and then hits a pool of water, creating a suction effect that can hold a boat underwater – according to his friends Eric Bissel of Golden and Leif Anderson, of Fort Collins.
He eventually popped out of the hole, but was out of his boat, they said. He floated down the river, over a couple drops. His friends chased him along the bank and threw him a rope. He wasn’t able to grab it.
Hunter kept floating downstream. Bissel and Anderson lost sight of him about 100 yards later when the brush along the river got thicker.
Officials started searching for Hunter Thursday around 4:30 p.m. They found his kayak and life jacket but called off the search when it got dark around 9 p.m.
Rescue crews started searching for Hunter again early Friday morning with the aid of a helicopter from the Colorado National Guard High Altitude Aviation Training Center in Eagle. His body was found a couple hundred yards upstream of the confluence of the Black Gore and Gore creeks – about a mile from where his friends last saw him.
Local kayaker Ken Hoeve, whose paddled the Fish Ladders before, said Hunter was on the water with the right people.
“He was out there with experienced kayakers,” Hoeve said. “My prayers go out to his family.”
Members of the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office, Vail Mountain Rescue, Summit County Search and Rescue, Eastern Eagle County Ambulance, Eagle River Water and Sanitation District, Vail Fire and
the Salvation Army helped with the search-and-rescue effort.
Adventure was Hunter’s thing, said his uncle Andrew Hunter. He commuted from Vail to his job with an airline on the Front Range just so he could be part of the mountain sports atmosphere, Andrew said.
“He was an amazing young man and he always liked adventure,” said Andrew Hunter.
Hunter loved snowboarding, hiking, snowshoeing and kite and wind surfing, Andrew Hunter said. He grew up outside of Boston and went to aeronautical school in Florida to be a pilot.
“He was always looking for the next adventure,” Andrew said. “I know he died doing what he loved.”
Hunter’s younger sister was killed in a car accident a few years ago. Hunter and his sister were the oldest of 11 cousins in the family, Andrew said.