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No charges in disappearance of Fremont County man, authorities say

Eric Ashby, 31 missing for two weeks

FREMONT COUNTY, Colo. - A spokeswoman with the Fremont County Sheriff's Office said Friday that no one will be charged in the case of a rafter presumed to have drowned in the Arkansas River.

"We presented the information we have to the district attorney's office," said Sgt. Megan Richards.  "Right now, there is no criminal activity."

Eric Ashby, 31, disappeared June 28 while in a type of raft with four companions near Sunshine Falls, west of Cañon City.

A witness reported seeing from a distance several people fall from the raft into the river, but that only one person was unable to get out.

Ashby's family reported him missing last Saturday, after authorities arrived at the scene and found no one there.

Will Colon, co-owner of Raft Masters, said several of his guides -- while overseeing a rafting trip -- apparently saw Ashby and his party on the day of his disappearance.

"They were in a pool toy in the water," Colon said.  "It wasn't any kind of a raft.  The group didn't have the right equipment.  They didn't have life jackets or helmets.  They weren't with a commercial outfitter.  It wasn't a rafting trip and they had no business being there."

Most of the reaction on social media is against Ashby's companions for not doing more to help him.

"I don't know why (the companions) didn't call for help," Richards said.  "People get scared sometimes and think they'll get in trouble.  Accidents happen, and we realize that.  We've spoken with some of the companions but we're still investigating the case."

Bridget Seritt, a friend of Ashby's, spent Thursday distributing flyers with his photos, hoping that someone will see him.

"I think we'll be looking for a body," she said.  "But I want to know what happened to him.  I want to know the how and why.  Maybe he made it out of the river somehow."

Authorities said there is no full-time search because of the length of Ashby's disappearance and high river levels from recent rain.

Richards said Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Fremont County Search and Rescue and Fremont County Coroner Randy Keller spend several days weekly along and in the river, between the Riverwalk and  Parkdale, looking for Ashby.

Seritt said she and other friends plan to search for him on Friday.

"He's from Tennessee," she said.  "He doesn't have any family here, and he's had some tough times.  He was living in a car for a while.  The last time I saw him, he was working as a waiter."

Seritt couldn't confirm that Ashby was searching for buried treasure believed to be hidden in 2010 by a wealthy antiques collector.

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