Vail rafter identified as Doug Gordon |

Vail rafter identified as Doug Gordon

eagle county correspondent

EDWARDS ” Gypsum resident Doug Gordon, 57, died Saturday when the private raft he was riding in flipped on the “Edwards Mile” of the Eagle River near the Riverwalk mall.

Eagle County Coroner Kara Bettis said Gordon’s family, including his mother, who hail from Woodstock, Ga. were notified of Gordon’s death. The Vail Daily was unable to locate any of his family members.

Gordon’s friend, who was piloting the raft and declined to give his name, swam to the south shore of the river after the boat hit a wave and capsized just before 2 p.m. Gordon ended up on the north side of the river. Both men were wearing life vests, said Lt. Mike McWilliam of the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office.

Kayakers pulled Gordon to the side of the river and performed CPR on the man for half and hour before Eagle River Fire Protection District personnel took over the job, McWilliam said. However, they were unsuccessful in reviving Gordon.

Even though the river is nearing its peak flow for the season, McWilliam said drugs and alcohol weren’t factors in the accident, and the rower will not face criminal charges. He called the incident a freak accident, adding both men were experienced rafters.

Gordon’s death came after a separate incident Friday night that left a man battered but alive after he fell from his boat on the same stretch of the Eagle River.

The multiple accidents have the local boating community abuzz as rafters and kayakers alike lament the loss of one of their own and urge caution on the river at this volatile time.

“Be safe out there. Go with people with plenty of experience. Scout the mile even though it’s long, and for God’s sake, wear some warm clothes and proper gear,” said one boater, known as “liquidchaos,” on’s online boating forum.

Still trying to determine who Gordon was, “WhiteLightning” simply posted, “Very sad to hear we lost one of our local river runners.”

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