- Associated Press - Friday, June 5, 2015

MOAB, Utah (AP) - Two men have died while whitewater rafting on the Colorado River near Utah’s eastern border with Colorado, a sheriff in Utah said Friday.

The Grand County Sheriff’s Office identified the men as 27-year-old Adam Ericksen of Bountiful, Utah, and 50-year-old Charles McLynch of Bay Shore, New York.

The men were riding in separate rafts on the river through 17-mile Westwater Canyon when their boats overturned Thursday afternoon, Sheriff Steven White said.

Other boaters pulled the men back into their rafts but the men were unresponsive and later pronounced dead, White said.

The men’s bodies have been sent to the Utah State Medical Examiner’s Office to determine the cause of death.

Westwater Canyon, the stretch of whitewater along the Colorado River in Utah, is a narrow section of the river with rough water, lots of rocks and steep cliffs on both sides.

Water is running high on the river, adding floating debris such as tree limbs, in addition to faster currents, White said.

The canyon includes more difficult Class IV rapids, and at least four other people have died while rafting the canyon over the last 16 years.

The area where the rafts flipped is in a rapid called Funnel Falls, about 54 miles upriver from the city of Moab.

Several other rafts flipped earlier Thursday in that same section, but there were no injuries reported, White said.

McLynch’s raft was part of a trip by commercial touring company in the area, Sheriff’s Lt. Kim Neal said. Five others were on his raft.

Ericksen was on a private rate with three others, Neal said.

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