Coroner releases identity of man found in Colorado River Sunday

 Photo: David Jones
Photo: David Jones (KJCT)
Published: Jul. 17, 2016 at 10:43 AM MDT
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The Mesa County Coroner's Office identified one of the men found in the Colorado River Sunday as Gary Keffer, 46, a transient living in the area.

The coroner did not provide details on how Keffer died due to the ongoing investigation.

Officials are still trying to locate next of kin for another man found in the Colorado River Sunday. Once family has been contacted, more information will be released.

Authorities found one body under the Redlands Parkway bridge around 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, and then found Keffer a little farther downstream near the Persigo Wash around 11:15 a.m., according to the Mesa County Sheriff's Office.

The first body is of a white man, who the sheriff's office said is between the ages of 40 to 50, is about 5 feet 10 inches to 6 feet tall, and weighs about 175 pounds. He has short, brown-graying hair and is missing some teeth.

At this point, the deaths are being treated as homicides, according to the Mesa County Sheriff's Office, but doesn't necessarily mean murder.

"In general, all unattended deaths are treated as homicides until proven otherwise," said Megan Terlecky, public information officer for the Mesa County Sheriff's Office.

The Mesa County Coroner's Office will release more information once an autopsy is complete.

"Unfortunately, right now, neither the Sheriff's Office or the Grand Junction Police Department have anybody on the missing person list," said Amanda Erkman, spokesperson for the Mesa County Sheriff's Office. "It's a good thing, but it does set us back in our investigation."

Erkman also said there is no reason at this time to believe the causes of the deaths are related.

Sunday's grim discoveries, along with the drowning of Alex Head on July 6, brings the total of local deaths connected to the Colorado River to three in the last couple of weeks.

Eric Cox, battalion chief for the Grand Junction Fire Department, said this is a tragic and grave reminder to be safe on the river.

"Even though the river looks like it is moving slow, it's still moving fairly quickly and it can pull you under," said Cox. "Absolutely, you need to be wearing a life jacket, and absolutely, you should be with other people."

Anyone with information is asked to call 241-STOP.

Check back for more updates as information becomes available.