Salt Lake City firefighter dies in rafting accident at Dinosaur National Monument

Water flows along the Green River near the Gates of Lodore on the Colorado side of Dinosaur National Monument in 2017. Park officials say a Utah man died in a rafting accident at the park Thursday.

Water flows along the Green River near the Gates of Lodore on the Colorado side of Dinosaur National Monument in 2017. Park officials say a Utah man died in a rafting accident at the park Thursday. (Luke Marlow, Shutterstock)


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DINOSAUR, Colo. — The Utah man who died in a freak rafting accident on the Green River in Dinosaur National Monument has been identified as a 27-year veteran of the Salt Lake City Fire Department.

Michael Harp, 54, of Sandy, was a captain with the Salt Lake Fire Department, which confirmed the death in a statement Saturday.

"Capt. Harp was a 27-year veteran of Salt Lake City Fire Department," the department wrote. "He was a second-generation firefighter, following the footsteps of his father who also served with the Salt Lake City Fire Department."

Harp was remembered by his colleagues as a dedicated member of Utah Task Force One, and was "notably deployed to Ground Zero on 9/11." The department said Harp dedicated his life to service. "His legacy of service, leadership, compassion, and contagious laughter will forever be remembered by all who knew him," the department statement added.

About 4 p.m. on Thursday, park rangers responded to a report of a rafting accident by Hells Half Mile, a section of class-three and class-four rapids on the Green River in the Canyon of Lodore on the Colorado section of the national monument. A boat occupied by a group on a private permitted trip had become pinned on a rock.

Harp was believed to have been pinned under the raft. When the boat was dislodged, Harp was unresponsive, lost his life jacket and "drifted downriver" rangers said.

River patrol rangers searched for Harp Thursday night. Commercial rafting guides ultimately located him shortly before 8 a.m. Friday, about 10 miles south of where he was thrown into the river. His body was pulled from the river and taken to the Moffat County, Colorado, coroner's office.

Park officials noted this section of the river is influenced by water released from Flaming Gorge Dam. Flows have averaged about 4,700 cubic feet per second this week.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with family, friends, and fellow firefighters during this difficult time," said Salt Lake City Fire, adding that the department will provide updates as more information becomes available.

Contributing: Carlysle Price, KSL TV

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Carter Williams is a reporter who covers general news, local government, outdoors, history and sports for KSL.com.
Ashley Fredde covers human services and women's issues for KSL.com. She also enjoys reporting on arts, culture and entertainment news. She's a graduate of the University of Arizona.

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