Accident Database

Report ID# 102

  • Pinned in Boat against Rock or Sieve
  • Does not Apply
  • Other

Accident Description


Poudre River (Bridges Section) near Fort Collins, CO: June 6, 1994

DESCRIPTION: The "Bridges" section of the Poudre River is a class III+ run at most water levels. But the " Killer Bridge" has been the site of several fatalities. The bridge pier is very sharp, and points directly into the current. There is no trace of a pillow. The victim, Charlie Seltzer, 26, was on his first river trip. He was paddling a borrowed kayak that was not outfitted with foam walls. He flipped while making a mandatory ferry just upstream of the abutment. He broached on the bridge pier upside down. His kayak wrapped, and despite the clear water his head was not visible. His helmet and PFD were quickly pulled off by the current.

This group, with the help of numerous bystanders, attached a line to the kayak and pulled it free in about fifteen minutes. They then had to tear the badly crushed boat apart to remove the victim. They started CPR and got a pulse back. Seltzer was driven downstream to a helicopter landing zone and flown to a hospital where he died several days later.

SOURCE: Rec.Boats.Paddle; Ft. Collins Coloradan; NORS Currents

ANALYSIS: Bridge abutments can be extremely unfriendly, and this one has a bad reputation. First timers cannot be trusted to execute dangerous moves, so a portage should be arranged in the future. There is some talk about modifying the bridge pier at this spot, but it's unlikely to happen due to questions of land ownership and jurisdiction.

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