DENVER — A Colorado rafting company was on probation when an 11-year-old boy drowned on a rafting trip, according to state regulators who put the company on probation twice for what it says were violations of state regulations.

The Adventure Company of Buena Vista had been warned it could lose its permit unless it improved.

State records show the Adventure Company was one of two commercial rafting companies placed on probation for the 2014 rafting season because of violations the prior year. Two other companies lost their permits to operate on the Arkansas River that year for repeated violations of state regulation.

Over the past three years, 18 people have died in Colorado on commercial rafting trips, including six this summer.

Adventure Company owner Mark Hammer said in a statement the citations involved record-keeping and not safety violations. There are conflicts between current rules and what the state previously accepted for guide records, Hammer said.

“Our record with safety inspections and procedure is impeccable,” he said.

Drake Durkee’s parents sued the rafting company, saying guides were negligent in taking their son and his grandfather, who could not swim, on dangerous rapids.

The rafting company received a citation after Drake’s death, saying one guide’s CPR certification had been earned online instead of in person, The Denver Post reported (http://tinyurl.com/hwrgoup).

Citations are petty offenses, similar to traffic tickets. The citation was later dropped after the company complained state regulations were too vague. This year regulations were rewritten to clarify that CPR certification must include in-person training.

After a meeting on search and rescue efforts in the case, the state notified the Adventure Company the suspension was repealed and the company was in “good standing,” according to a state email given to The Post.

Kris Wahlers, boating safety education coordinator for Colorado Parks & Wildlife, said the suspension was dropped because there was “no other criminal fault” involved in Drake’s death aside from the CPR citation. The citation was dismissed by the Chaffee County district attorney’s office.

Parks and Wildlife officials may consider posting online when rafting outfitters are placed on probation, Wahlers said.


Information from: The Denver Post, http://www.denverpost.com

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