Jeff was owner of All Adventures Rafting based on the White Salmon and was apparently guiding a commercial trip that ran into a log hazard.
Two rafters die in Klickitat River mishap
Sunday, May 21, 2006
GLENWOOD, Wash. -- The Coast Guard Sunday found the body of a second rafter who was thrown overboard in an accident that killed two along a remote section of the Klickitat River. A second rafter was found dead Saturday afternoon after three rafts capsized, spilling 18 people into the river, said Coast Guard Petty Officer Darin McCracken. Sixteen people were rescued, including a third rafter hoisted up from dry land by a Coast Guard helicopter, he said.
Klickitat County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Pam Maurer said a log jam caused the rafts to capsize east of the small town on the southeast corner of Mount Adams. The first call to the sheriff's office of the capsizings came in at 4:30 p.m. Saturday. Maurer said the river is running really high and fast right now. Maurer said the river is a popular place for rafting, but because of recent warm and rainy weather, it's also been the site of several accidents this year. Details of the accident were still sketchy Saturday night because the area has no cellular phone coverage and limited radio contact.
Maurer did not know if the people on the rafting trip were adults or children, men or women. The rescue operation in the rugged area 74 miles northeast of Portland, Ore., involved numerous agencies from both Washington and Oregon.
Associated Press Rafting guide, passenger die after rafts capsize in Klickitat River
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
GLENWOOD, Wash. -- A rafting company owner with 25 years as a river guide and one of his customers died after four rafts came upon a logjam near a hatchery on the runoff-swollen Klickitat River, authorities said. The bodies of Jeff Driver, 50, of White Salmon, and Rollin Schimmel, 61, of Pendleton, Ore., were recovered after the accident near the Yakama Indian Nation's fish hatchery about 70 miles northeast of Portland, Ore., Klickitat County sheriff's deputies said.
Driver ran All Rivers Adventures with his wife, Karen. The other 17 in the four rafts reached shore after the accident Saturday afternoon, said Pamela Jo Maurer, a sheriff's communications officer. Two of the rafters were injured. Several agencies from Washington state and Oregon responded to the accident on a remote stretch of the river, which is popular for rafting but has been the site of several accidents this year because of high water from rain and a recent heat wave, Maurer said. According to U.S. Geological Survey data, the Klickitat was running about 4,100 feet per second on Saturday, compared with an average of about 2,500 fps this time of year.
Driver's relatives would not discuss the accident. He had never had a fatality on any of his previous trips. The cause of the accident remained under investigation. Competing whitewater guides in the region said Driver was regarded as knowledgeable and safety-oriented. "He's a good man, and I'm sure he was operating properly," said Jerry Michalec, owner of North Cascades River Expeditions in Arlington, "but rafting can be very dangerous, especially when you have high runoff the way we have this year."
Pendleton, Ore., High School athletic director Dave Williams said Schimmel was a high school teacher and wrestling coach for nearly 39 years, most of them at Pendleton. Schimmel was a standout in wrestling and football at Eastern Oregon College, where he won the NAIA 160-pound wrestling title in 1967, Williams said. After graduation, he began his coaching career at Pendleton, leaving for a brief stint as teacher and coach at Glencoe High School in Hillsboro, Ore. He returned to Pendleton as athletic director from 1991-97, when he retired. He returned to coaching two years later before retiring again about four years ago, Williams said.
May 22, 2006 GLENWOOD, Wash;The two men who died in a rafting accident on the runoff-swollen Klickitat River were identified as a veteran river guide and one of his customers. The bodies of Jeff Driver, 50, of White Salmon, and Rollin Schimmel, 61, of Pendleton, Ore., were recovered following the accident Saturday, Klickitat County sheriff's deputies said. Driver ran All Rivers Adventures with his wife, Karen. Four rafts capsized when they came upon a logjam near the Yakama Indian Nation's fish hatchery about 70 miles northeast of Portland, Ore., authorities said The other 17 people on the rafts reached shore, but two of them were injured, said Pamela Jo Maurer, a sheriff's communications officer. She said the injuries were not life-threatening. The river is popular for whitewater rafting but has been the site of several accidents this year because of high water from rain and a recent heat wave, she said. According to U.S. Geological Survey data, the Klickitat on Saturday was running more than 60 percent above normal for this time of year. Driver's relatives would not discuss the accident, which remained under investigation. Competing whitewater guides said he was regarded as knowledgeable and safety-oriented. ?He's a good man, and I'm sure he was operating properly,? said Jerry Michalec, owner of North Cascades River Expeditions in Arlington. ?But rafting can be very dangerous, especially when you have high runoff the way we have this year.? Commentary Remembering a river runner: Klickitat rafting accident killed one of Washington's finest By Scott Sandsberry Yakima Herald-Republic Editor's note: As the Pacific Northwest's river-rafting season gears up for the summer, an accident on southern Washington's Klickitat River last weekend killed two rafters. Jeff Driver, a top guide who ran the White Salmon-based All Adventures Rafting, and passenger Rollin Schimmel, a veteran wrestling coach from Pendleton, Ore., died when two of the three rafts hit a logjam on a remote stretch of the fast-running river and overturned. The other 16 rafters on the guided trip survived. Here, outdoors writer Scott Sandsberry of Yakima remembers his trips with Driver. I didn't know Jeff Driver well enough, really, to call him a friend. But I liked his company, I valued his judgment and I respected his professionalism. I also trusted him with that which I hold most dear ? the life of my wife. Twice And I'd do it again. Even knowing that two people drowned on a raft trip he was guiding last Saturday on the Klickitat River, I would take my wife rafting with Jeff again. I know he would protect Rhonda with all the wisdom, skill and instincts honed over a 25-year river-guiding career during which ? until last weekend ? not one of his thousands of passengers, negotiating some of the state's wildest whitewater, had drowned. I can't do that now, of course. Because one of the two people who died Saturday on the Klickitat was Jeff himself. River runners are a lot like mountain climbers ? an apt comparison in Jeff's case, considering that he ha worked as a mountain guide, too. Risk is such a part of their daily existence that it is accepted. Embraced, even, because it sharpens the senses, the focus, the concentration. Inherent risk demands that you be at your best. And Jeff always was. I'm what you might call a marginally experienced recreational paddler. I've whitewater-rafted maybe 18 or 20 times, usually with professional guides; most of them were pretty good, a couple of them were shaky, and a handful of them were excellent. Until 2001, though, my wife had never rafted, and her feelings about joining me on a trip were somewhere between tepid and terrified. So when she said yes, I wanted to go with the best guide I could think of. My first choice would have been Bruce Carlson, the Cashmere-based guide whose All Rivers Adventures pretty much set the standard for outfitters in this state. But Bruce had retired, so I chose Jeff ? for years one of Bruce's top guides, a highly reputable guy with search-and-rescue experience, and the one to whom (along with Jeff's wife, Karen, a top-notch guide herself) Bruce chose to sell a chunk of his business. Jeff, as lead guide for All Adventures Rafting (the company he ran with Karen), took us down the White Salmon and over the 14-foot drop at Husum Falls, after which my wife ? emboldened by Jeff's patient guidance ? immediately wanted to do it again. He took us down the Wenatchee during 2002's biggest flows, giving Rhonda the honor of a being a front-row paddler on the river's toughest rapids. Like all great guides, Jeff engendered confidence within his clients. Even the ones who, last Saturday, were reminded so cruelly that even the best and strongest among us will fail when Mother Nature demands the last word. The 14 Oregonians on Saturday's tragic trip knew Jeff well. For years, many of them had scheduled an annual raft trip with Bruce Carlson, and after Bruce retired, they had simply switched over to rafting with Jef and Karen. It was always a great time. Last weekend, though, they encountered a logjam ? one that hadn't been there on Jeff's previous trips downriver ? and the river's flow forced the three All Adventures rafts into the debris. Two of them capsized. Jeff drowned. So did a Pendleton wrestling coaching icon named Rollin Schimmel. The other rafters, many of whom had to be pulled from the water by Jeff's guides, were left stranded for hours on the river island behind the logjam until they could be rescued. One of those pulled to safety was Eileen Marshall, a 62-year-old from Pendleton who had been on Jeff's raft. Her primary concern, when I spoke with her on Tuesday, was not her own horrifying experience, her own close call. She simply wanted to know if a memorial service for Jeff had been set yet. Because she wanted to go. "I'd go out (rafting) with Jeff again," she told me. "This was just an accident. It was something nobody could have prevented. I think we all feel that way. He had just super guides; those guys went above and beyond, those that were remaining. They had to be so devoted to him ? because here they knew he was dead, but they went on doing what they could for the rest of us because that's what he'd want. How many people could do that? They obviously loved him. And you have to trust somebody to love somebody like they did. "He was such a professional." Mike Mikel, another veteran guide from Cashmere, remembers the first time he met Jeff ? for whom he would later work ? about 15 years ago on the Tieton River. A guided raft had flipped. Another rafter ? not someone working that day, just a guy out rafting with a friend or two ? had pulled all the swimmers out of the water. The guy was Jeff Driver. "He's the finest man I've known," Mikel told me. "In so many ways." Carlson, a Vietnam veteran, told me once that he lost God in Vietnam, where he had lost so many of his own comrades. But he found Him again in the outdoors ? in the bracing feel of a cool breeze, the whirring gurgle of river whitewater, the spectrum of colors in a sunset. Sometimes Bruce finds himself revisiting those fallen comrades in his mind as he gazes at such a sunset, essentially bringing them back to share the beauty with him. In his mind, Carlson said with a little smile, his old 'Nam buddies tell him, "That's real nice, Bruce ? but just so you know, the view's a lot nicer where we are." I'm guessing that the view's a lot nicer where Jeff Driver is. And I'll bet there's a river. Yakima Herald-Republic outdoors editor Scott Sandsberry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Copyright ï¿½ 2006 The Seattle Times Company Update 1: 2 Dead After 4 Rafts Capsize in Wash. 05.21.2006, 11:11 PM Working through the night, searchers recovered two bodies from the Klickitat River in south-central Washington after four rafts capsized, authorities said Sunday. A Coast Guard helicopter spotted the body of Jeff Driver, 50, of White Salmon, around 11 p.m. Saturday while searching the river with lights. The second body was found Sunday and tentatively identified by the Klickitat County Sheriff's Office as Rollin Schimmel, 61, of Pendleton, Ore. Seventeen other rafters made it to shore, two with injuries, shortly after the Saturday afternoon incident, which authorities said may have been caused by a log jam in the river. The river's water level was high and its current fast-moving when the rafts capsized, said Pam Maurer, spokeswoman for the sheriff's office. Several agencies from both Washington and Oregon went to the remote section of the river where the accidents happened, about 70 miles northeast of Portland, Ore. The Klickitat River is a popular place for rafting, but because of recent warm and rainy weather, it has been the site of several accidents this year, she said. Monday, May 22, 2006 Second of 2 killed after rafts capsized in Klickitat is found THE ASSOCIATED PRESS GLENWOOD -- Searchers found the second of two bodies in the Klickitat River on Sunday after searching through the night for two people missing after four rafts capsized in the cold, fast-moving river in south-central Washington, authorities said. The first victim -- Jeff Driver, 50, of White Salmon, -- was found about 11:15 p.m. Saturday by a Coast Guard helicopter searching the river with lights. The second was found in the water on Sunday and tentatively identified by the Klickitat County heriff's Office as Rollin Schimmel, 61, of Pendleton, Ore. Seventeen people were rescued, two with injuries, soon after the Saturday afternoon incident, which authorities said may have been caused by a log jam in the river. The river's water level was high and its current fast-moving when the rafts capsized, said Pam Maurer, spokeswoman for the Sheriff's Office. Several agencies from Washington and Oregon went to the remote section of the river where the accidents happened, about 70 miles northeast of Portland. The Klickitat River is popular for rafting, but because of recent warm and rainy weather, it has been the site of several accidents this year, Maurer said. Rafting trip leads to tragedy By JESSICA WAMBACH YAKIMA HERALD-REPUBLIC The state's white-water rafting community mourned the loss of one of its most notoriously safe guides Sunday after learning he was one of two men who drowned in an accident on the Klickitat River the day before. Jeff Driver, 50, of BZ Corner operated All Rivers Adventures with his wife, Karen, and had never had a death on any trip he guided in his 25-year career. On Saturday, he was leading a four-raft excursion on the Klickitat, which was running at its peak height and speed for the year because of spring runoff. The group was near the Yakama Nation fish hatchery by Glenwood when it came upon a log jam, and at least two rafts capsized, according to the Klickitat County Sheriff's Office. Nineteen people were on the trip, and 18 of them, including Driver's body, were on shore by the time authorities arrived just before 5 p.m. Rollin Schimmel, 61, of Pendleton, Ore., was still missing Saturday night. The U.S. Coast Guard and search and rescue crews from four counties found Schimmel's body Sunday afternoon. Authorities are still investigating the cause of the accident and details about the raft trip have not been released. Driver's death came as a shock to white-water guides in the region who knew him as a safe and experienced guide. "He's a good man, and I'm sure he was operating properly," said Jerry Michalec, who owns North Cascades River Expeditions in Arlington, Wash., and was one of Driver's competitors. "But rafting can be very dangerous, especially when you have high runoff the way we have this year." The Klickitat was running at about 4,100 cubic feet per second on Saturday, according to the U.S. Geological Survey water data, meaning that about 4,100 cubic feet of water flowed past a hypothetical point in the river every second. The river's average speed for that day in history is about 2,500 cubic feet per second. When a river is running fast and high after several years of low water levels, a lot of debris washes into the river from the banks, making unpredictable log jams possible. Driver's family declined to discuss the incident, but one of his children described him as a loving father and husband with a passion for rafting. Bruce Carlson, a river guide in Central Washington for 32 years who hired Driver and his wife to work for him for about six years, sold part of his business to the Drivers in 2001 and they opened All Rivers Adventures. "Jeff was a mountain climber. He loved outdoor adventure sports and was extremely responsible," Carlson said, adding that Driver was very strong and likely died trying to save his clients' lives. "It's like a captain going down with the ship," he said. "We're missing a great brother if Jeff is gone."