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Kayaker killed in treacherous stretch of river in western Colorado

The Crystal River was running low on Oct. 23, 2020, near Carbondale. This spot is just downstream of Meatgrinder, a treacherous rapid where an experienced kayaker was killed on Saturday. ((Hugh Carey, Special to The Colorado Sun)

The body of a kayaker who disappeared in a treacherous section of the Crystal River in western Colorado was found Saturday after two days’ of searching, authorities said.

Chason P. Russell, 41, a professional adventure guide and a volunteer for Mountain Rescue Aspen, was kayaking with two other people when his boat over turned in a section of the river called the “Meatgrinder” Thursday.

His body was found Saturday in the area where he was last seen, the Pitkin County Coroner’s Office said. Russell drowned and his death was ruled accidental, the office said.

Russell is survived by his wife, Jessica Christine, whom he married June 9, his brother, Garrett, and parents Salli and Jim, The Aspen Times reported.

Russell worked for nearly 15 years as an outdoor instructor for the Telluride Academy in his hometown of Telluride before moving to Aspen in 2011.

Russell was a level-headed member of the Mountain Rescue Aspen team who often served as a mentor and shared his knowledge and respect for the mountains with others, the organization’s president, Jordan White, said.

“He’s leaving behind a large group of people that in some way or another have been influenced by him and how he thought about the mountains,” he said.

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