GRAND CANYON, Ariz. - At approximately 1 p.m. Sept. 18, the Grand Canyon Regional Communications Center, located within Grand Canyon National Park, received a call from a private river runner via satellite phone reporting a fatality on the Colorado River near Lava Falls.
A medic and two investigators from the National Park Service responded by helicopter and found the private river party and a deceased male approximately one mile below Lava Falls near River Mile 180. Participants on the river trip reported that two men had been washed out of their boat at Lava Falls. One man made it to safety, the second man, later identified as 64-year old Gary Aus from Leavenworth, Kan., was swept down river. Participants on another boat in the group were able to intercept Aus. They indicated that he was able to hold onto the side of their boat for a short period of time before becoming dislodged. He told the group that he was okay and would swim to shore. The group temporarily lost sight of him, but then located him less than a mile down river. He was found face down with his personal flotation device up over his head.
Group members pulled him out of the water and brought him to shore where they started CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). After 20 minutes, CPR was stopped and group members called the National Park Service to report the fatality.
The body of Mr. Aus was flown by helicopter to the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park late yesterday afternoon and then transferred to the Coconino County Medical Examiner for transport to Flagstaff.
The National Park Service and Coconino County Medical Examiner are conducting an investigation.