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Man found dead in Animas River identified

Authorities say no foul play suspected

A man found dead in the Animas River on Tuesday has been identified as a 31-year-old La Plata County resident.

La Plata County Coroner Jann Smith said Michael Flanagan was found dead around 4:30 p.m. in the river in an area behind Escalante Middle School in south Durango.

Flanagan was found by a passing commercial rafting trip. The rafting guide pulled over downstream, waded upriver and was able to pull the body to shore. Flanagan was wearing jeans and a shirt.

Smith said Flanagan died as a result of drowning, but what led to his death remains unclear. It appears he was in the water about an hour to an hour and a half before he was found.

“No one saw him enter the river,” she said. “He was just seen in the river next to a rock. For whatever reason, he fell in the river.”

Authorities say an autopsy scheduled Friday should help piece together the circumstances surrounding Flanagan’s death.

“We’ll check if anything else contributed to his death,” Smith said.

Durango Police Department Cmdr. Rita Warfield said there were no obvious signs of trauma, and foul play is not suspected at this time. Police are asking any one with information to call non-emergency dispatch.

“Of course, the autopsy will give us information, but we have no way of knowing what happened until we get more information from people,” she said. “Sometimes, you never really know the exact reason someone fell in the water.”

Flanagan does have ties to Durango, and has been living here for a while, Smith said. Next of kin, who are based on the East Coast, have been notified.


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