Tragic Rafting Accident Claims Life of Fire Captain

A tragic accident took place in Colorado’s Dinosaur National Monument. Michael Harp, a veteran firefighter from Salt Lake City, Utah, lost his life while rafting. Harp, aged 54, had served the Salt Lake City Fire Department for 27 years.

The incident occurred on the Green River, in an area known as the Canyon of Lodore. On Thursday afternoon, Harp was with a group on a private rafting trip when their boat got stuck on a rock in a rapid called Hells Half Mile. Despite wearing a life jacket, Harp ended up trapped under the raft when it dislodged.

The National Park Service (NPS) responded quickly, but it was too late. Harp’s life jacket came off, and he drifted downstream. His body was found the next morning, about 10 miles downriver, by guides from a rafting company named Adrift. The Moffat County coroner took over from there, but no more details have been shared yet.

Harp was a dedicated firefighter, following in the footsteps of his father. The Salt Lake City Fire Department honored him in a social media post, highlighting his commitment and bravery. Harp had even traveled to Ground Zero after the 9/11 attacks to help with the rescue efforts.

The department’s message described Harp as a person full of service, leadership, and laughter. He was deeply respected by his colleagues and the community he served. His loss is a significant blow to everyone who knew him.

Dinosaur National Monument, which covers over 210,000 acres across Colorado and Utah, is known for its preserved dinosaur fossils. It’s also a popular spot for whitewater rafting, attracting adventurers from around the world. The Green and Yampa rivers, which run through the monument, offer challenging rapids and stunning canyon views.

During the days around Harp’s accident, the Green River’s flow rate in the Canyon of Lodore was about 4,700 cubic feet per second, according to the NPS. This high flow rate can make the rapids even more dangerous, highlighting the risks that come with such adventures.

This accident serves as a somber reminder of the unpredictability of nature and the courage of those who face it head-on, whether in their daily work or in their pursuits of adventure.