A search-and-rescue team on Thursday morning located the body of a 16-year-old girl who was swept away by the Roaring Fork River near the Devil’s Punchbowl late Wednesday afternoon.
Tracy Trulove, spokesperson for the incident management team of several local public-safety entities searching for the teen, said the girl was located at 9:15 a.m. Thursday about 100 yards downriver from the Punchbowl, a popular summer recreation spot east of Aspen off Highway 82.
In a news release on Thursday evening, Pitkin County Deputy Coroner Eric Hansen identified the victim as Jamie Tran of Wichita, Kansas. An autopsy to determine the exact cause of death is pending, the release says.
At around 4:45 p.m. Wednesday, the Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office received a call for a “swift water rescue” in the area of the Punchbowl, according to a sheriff’s office news release issued early Thursday.
Trulove later said the teen may have been navigating some rocks in a lower section of the Punchbowl and slipped. Witnesses reported to authorities that the victim was crossing the river just below the Punchbowl and was swept downstream by the strong current.
Authorities believe that Tran “may have been trying to go around the Punchbowl,” Trulove said.
She added that Tran was passing through the area while on vacation.
According to the sheriff’s office, the young woman’s companions and others performed a search of the immediate area, before emergency responders arrived, after she fell into the river. They also sent someone to an emergency call box along the highway to phone for help.
The sheriff’s release states that emergency personnel from across the valley went to the area and “thoroughly searched the banks of the river.” No sign of the young woman was found by nightfall on Wednesday, and search efforts were suspended. Limited searching was conducted after nightfall using night-vision equipment, the release says.
Before the search resumed Thursday, the Twin Lakes Colorado Canal Company diverted water away from the river. The drop in water levels aided the team in locating the victim, the release states.
Aside from the sheriff's office, members of the Aspen Fire Protection District, Mountain Rescue Aspen, Roaring Fork Fire Rescue Authority, Aspen Ambulance District, Aspen Hope Center, Aspen Police Department and Pitkin County Open Space participated in the search operation, the release adds.
The sheriff’s office reminded the public of the dangers associated with the county’s waterways as they may be swollen and flowing faster than expected.