Salt Lake City Fire Captain Michael Harp Dies in Green River Rafting Mishap

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Written By Kanisha Laing

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A Utah man who died in a rafting accident at Dinosaur National Monument in Colorado has been identified as Michael Harp, a 54-year-old veteran of the Salt Lake City Fire Department.

Harp, who had served in the department for 27 years, was on a private rafting trip with a group on the Green River in the Canyon of Lodore. Around 4 p.m. on Thursday, their boat got stuck on a rock in a rapid known as Hells Half Mile.

The U.S. National Park Service said monument staff responded and found out that Harp was missing, believed to be trapped under the raft. The group managed to free the boat, but Harp was unresponsive and drifted down the river.

Harp had been wearing a life jacket, but it was lost by the time the boat was freed. River Patrol Rangers searched for him, and his body was found about 10 river miles downstream by guides from the commercial rafting company Adrift around 7:45 a.m. on Friday.

Harp’s body was airlifted to the Moffat County coroner. No further details about his death were immediately available.

Harp, from Sandy, Utah, was a second-generation firefighter and served as a fire captain in the Salt Lake City Fire Department. The department noted that he had notably deployed to Ground Zero after 9/11.

“Captain Michael Harp dedicated his life to the service of not only the citizens of Salt Lake City, but also his fellow firefighters,” the department wrote in a social media post. “His legacy of service, leadership, compassion, and contagious laughter will forever be remembered by all who knew him.”

Dinosaur National Monument spans 210,000 acres across Colorado and Utah. It is famous for its preserved dinosaur fossils and attracts whitewater rafters from around the world to its Green and Yampa rivers.

At the time of the accident, the flow rates for the Canyon of Lodore section of the Green River averaged 4,700 cubic feet per second, according to the NPS.

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