Accident Database

Report ID# 1032

  • Unknown
  • Hypothermia
  • Cold Water
  • One Boat Trip

Accident Description

A Chicago man was marooned for eight days on a narrow flat spot of land in the rugged gorge of Alaska’s TatshenshiniRiver in the Wrangell/St. Elias National Park. After plunging through 6’ waves and swamping, the boat apparently tipped on contact with the sheer canyon walls, throwing the victim out less than two hours into the trip. Prevented from walking back upstream by the sheer canyon walls, he stayed out in the open for seven full days until rescued by park rangers on routine patrol. The entire experience was a horrible physical and mental ordeal.


The others in his group, who did not fall in the water, left to seek help after searching for several days. There are a lot of unanswered questions about why this man was not reported missing sooner.


SOURCE: Chicago Tribune

ANALYSIS: This is an extreme example of a real problem. Rugged country can severely complicate efforts to reunite a party after a mishap, and even communication can be difficult. The presence of a second raft might have facilitated rescue, making this ordeal less likely.

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