Drowned Greenlee kayaker’s remains found

Contributed Photo: Dylan Archuleta’s remains were found Friday, Aug. 9 and positively identified Friday, Aug. 16.

Positively identified as Dylan Archuleta

By Jon Johnson


GREENLEE COUNTY – The search for drowned kayaker Dylan Archuleta, 26, officially ended March 10 without success. However, many never stopped searching and now his remains have been found. 

According to a social media post by the Greenlee Sheriff’s Office, Archuleta’s remains were discovered Friday, Aug. 9, roughly 10 miles downstream from where he was last seen. The remains were sent to the Pima County Medical Examiner, where they were positively identified Friday, Aug. 16, as Archuleta.

Archuleta had been missing since March 2, after drowning under his kayak in the Gila River roughly a quarter-mile above the Old Safford Bridge. 

According to a witness who was camping at the nearby Black Hill Byway Campground, a man who was kayaking with Archuleta became caught in a logjam and when Archuleta attempted to help free him he was caught himself. Archuleta’s kayak then flipped and he was trapped underneath the water. 

When rescue agencies arrived, they attempted to pull Archuleta out of the water, but Archuleta slipped out when the kayak was overturned and sunk into the murky Gila River, which was moving at about 320 cubic-feet-per-second. Neither kayaker was wearing lifejackets. 

The search for Archuleta involved numerous specialized rescuers from counties throughout Arizona, state, and federal agencies, and a private industry group with specialized technology. 

Archuleta was an avid outdoorsman and enjoyed fishing. A GoFundMe page is still active here to help his family.