Mar 212005
Authors: James Baetke

Officials have positively identified the remains of a woman who was found Sunday in the Poudre River.

County officials said Monday that the body discovered in the Poudre River is that of a female motorcyclist who lost control of her bike last summer and was catapulted into the river.

Family members of Gloria Nelson of Aztec, N.M. have been scowering the river since the July 16 crash took her life. Nelson was traveling as part of a group of cyclists who travel Colorado with Durango Harley-Davidson's annual "Capture the Pass."

The Larimer County Medical Examiner's Office performed the autopsy Monday. It stated the cause of death as a drowning with complications of blunt force injuries resulting from the motorcycle mishap, said Larimer County Deputy Coroner Greg Fairman in a written press release.

Nelson's family was out last weekend in their continued search for her and found a body about 12 feet from the edge of the river wedged between rocks. They called emergency personnel and a dive team helped recover the body, said Eloise Campanella, spokeswoman for the Larimer County Sheriff's Office.

The body was found at mile marker 104 on Highway 14, or Poudre Canyon Highway. The remains were about 1 3/4 mile from where Nelson originally fell in, Campanella said.

On July 16 Nelson was riding with friends and family, including her husband, as part of the "Capture the Pass" where registered participants retreat to numerous mountain passes across Colorado for prizes, said Jeff Murray, owner of Durango Harley-Davidson.

According to reports, Nelson hit a patch of gravel, hit a guardrail and fell into the river in an area known as Big Narrows, 15 miles west of Ted's Place.

"The family was very religious with going up there and finding her there," Campanella said.

Nelson's husband, Johnnie, was not part of the search efforts Sunday, but arrived in Fort Collins Monday morning when he heard word his wife may have been found, Campanella said.

According to Campanella, the area where Nelson fell into the river is very treacherous. Rapids, rocks and a miniature waterfall riddle the area where the dive team had to respond Sunday. Clothing of the victim led the family and authorities to immediately believe the remains were Nelson's.

"The part she fell in was just a horrible spot," Campanella said, who added that the location of the body is about three to four feet below what the water level was in July. This could be a reason the body had not been found sooner.

Murray said "Capture the Pass" is only a few years old and sees about 70 registered cyclists a year. Registered riders have three months to complete the task and are intended for riders to get out and enjoy the scenery and have fun together. Although Murray does not know Nelson personally he and his staff were upset by the incident.

"I know all of us were saddened by what happened. It put a real damper on things," Murray said. "My heart goes out to the family. I hope they find closure."

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