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Naperville North grad still missing in Colorado rafting accident
By Christy Gutowski | Daily Herald Staff

Kimberly Appelson

 

Kimberly Appelson

 

Tanit Jarusan | Staff Photographer

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Published: 7/20/2010 12:04 AM

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She was passionate for the mountains, rafting and all things outdoors.

Kimberly Appelson lived just 23 years but, to those who loved her, the Lisle native's sense of humor, adventurous spirit and endless energy were unmatched.

On Sunday, more than 200 people filled DuPage Unitarian Universalist Church in Naperville for an emotional tribute to remember how Appelson lived, rather than her untimely death.

The raft guide went missing just before 6 p.m. July 11 after being ejected into the Arkansas River during an off-duty outing with four friends in Colorado State Parks.

Authorities said the boat high-sided and Appelson fell into the river near a dangerous underwater hazard at the Frog Rock rapid, about 2 miles north of Buena Vista, in the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area.

Her body still hadn't been recovered Monday, and recovery efforts were suspended for a few more weeks until the high water flows drop, said Tom Waters, assistant park manager.

Waters said another member of Appelson's group also fell into the river, but he was able to grab on to the side and pull himself back into the boat. The group soon lost sight of Appelson, who was wearing a life vest but not a helmet.

Search techniques included divers, underwater cameras, probing poles, technical rope systems, and tracking dogs along the bank, but none led to Appelson's recovery, according to Chaffee County Undersheriff Keith Pinkston. Fellow guides from Arkansas Valley Adventures - the company Appelson worked for as a first-year raft guide - also volunteered to help in the search.

Appelson graduated last spring from the University of Iowa with a bachelor's of arts degree in English. She grew up in Lisle and attended Naperville North High School, where she graduated with honors in 2005.

Appelson is survived by her parents, Larry and Barbara Appelson, of Naperville, as well as two siblings. Instead of flowers, her family asked that Appelson's passion for the mountains and the outdoors be honored with a donation in her name to: The National Parks Foundation at nationalparks.org.