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Report ID# 114803

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Accident Description

 
RRFW Riverwire - Motorboat Flip In Grand Canyon Causes Fatality
From Tom martin via FB
 
On April 27, 2021, Grand Canyon National Park issued a press release about a motorized tour boat flip with one fatality and injuries on the Colorado River in Grand Canyon National Park. The incident occurred on April 26 “near Kwagunt Rapid.” The release noted that “Due to adverse weather conditions, the park helicopter was not able to immediately respond.” Eyewitnesses have since come forward with details of the event.
 
The river trip consisted of two motorized tour boats operated by river concessionaire Canyoneers. The trip launched at Lees Ferry, Arizona on Saturday, April 24, 2021. On the evening of the 25th, the trip camped at Little Nankoweap Camp, river Mile 52.1 where high winds buffeted the camp that night and passengers reported not sleeping very well. The winds subsided in the early morning hours and the trip departed the camp as normal. The two craft became separated as they proceeded downriver and the two motorboats ran Kwagunt Rapid at river mile 56.3 without incident, then started motoring down a long straightaway where the river is 200 feet wide. By this time the lead boat was out of sight of the second boat.
 
According to passengers aboard the craft, one of the crewmembers was doing an interpretive talk at approximately 9:30 am when he suddenly realized the craft was about to collide with a large boulder on the left side of the river at river mile 57.0. He shouted out in alarm to the crewmember who was operating the boat’s motor. The 37-foot-long craft hit the boulder as the guide shouted “High Side,” a term used by river runners to keep a boat from turning over by shifting the passenger weight. Though receiving no prior instructions about the use of the term on this river trip, some of the passengers responded to the command and moved to the rising side of the boat. Unfortunately, the motorboat rolled upside down anyway, throwing all the passengers and crew into the 48-degree river water.
 
All passengers and crew were wearing lifejackets and suddenly found themselves in the Colorado River floating downstream adjacent to or under the overturned craft. The C-Craft has a central walkway with large storage boxes lining the walkway and at the back end of the walkway. The front end of the walkway is the upturned front of the rubber pontoon. When upside down, this creates an area difficult to get out of.
 
Some of the passengers floating in the river were able to reach the left bank of the river, others reached the right bank, and some stayed near the boat as it traveled almost a half mile before entering an eddy along the right shore where water circles downstream then back upstream out of the main river flow. The individuals floating alongside the boat were able to exit the river here, except for two individuals under the boat. Three individuals were swept on downriver in the main current.
 
Accounts vary on how long the C-craft circled in this eddy, ranging from between 30 and 45 minutes. The boat eventually came close enough to shore that the passengers were able to grab the boat and get it to shore. A passenger on the trip happened to be a retired wildlands firefighter. Taking off his lifejacket, he was able to swim under the boat and retrieve the two trapped passengers. By the time they were taken from the water, they were hypothermic. Sleep kits fastened to the side of the overturned boat were retrieved and the two individuals were placed in sleeping bags with other passengers for the next few hours so they could regain their body temperature.
 
Meanwhile, one individual who was swept downstream became unresponsive and did not recover after receiving a long period of cardiopulmonary resuscitation provided by one of the crew members.
 
According to eyewitnesses, the next river trip to arrive was a commercial river trip operated by Wilderness River Adventures. It was an oar trip accompanied by a motorized boat carrying the trip’s supplies. This trip used its satellite phone to notify the National Park Service of the incident at approximately 11:00 am. Adverse weather on the South Rim kept the NPS helicopter from responding to the event. The Park Service launched two rescue boats and the concessionaire launched a motorboat. Both arrived on scene the following morning, as did the NPS helicopter.
 
In the afternoon of April 26, the Wilderness trip assisted in moving almost all the passengers and crew downriver to the river camp at 61.6 Mile where the first Canyoneers boat waited. The reunited group camped for the night where they were, making the best of the situation through a cold night. Some passengers went without sleeping bags, or sleeping pads, or tents,. Some chose to sleep under nearby ledges. All passengers and crew were transported by rescue motorized tour boat to Phantom Ranch located roughly thirty miles downstream of where the accident occurred by late in the day April 27, where the National Park Service provided food and lodging at Phantom Ranch for the night. All the passengers and crew were extracted by NPS helicopter on the morning of April 28.
 
Large motorized tour boats make hundreds of trips through Grand Canyon yearly and flips of these boats are rare but do occur. The concessionaire operating this craft, Canyoneers, had a river related fatality on one of their river trips in 2018 and a Canyoneers motorized tour boat flipped in Crystal Rapid in 1989. The company is not answering questions about the accident, and all the river concessions are referring inquiries to Grand Canyon National Park where Park officials refused to comment further on the accident after releasing the April 28, 2021 press release. The name of the deceased, a 60-year-old female, has not been released.
 
 
One Fatality and Two Injured on Colorado River in Grand Canyon National Park
Grand Canyon News Release
For Immediate Release
April 27, 2021
Contact: Kaitlyn Thomas, 202-763-3440
 
Grand Canyon, Ariz. - On April 26, 2021 at approximately 11:00 a.m. MST, the Grand Canyon Regional Communications Center received a satellite phone report of a boating accident on the Colorado River near Kwagunt Rapid at river mile 56. A commercial river trip requested assistance with an overturned motorboat and reported boater injuries.
The park swiftwater rescue team responded with two crews of rescue boats which launched on April 26th and arrived on scene the morning of April 27. Due to adverse weather conditions, the park helicopter was not able to immediately respond.
A 60-year-old female on the trip died in the event. On the afternoon of April 27, the park helicopter evacuated two injured individuals and the deceased. Salvage operations of the overturned boat are ongoing.
An investigation into the incident is being conducted by the National Park Service in coordination with the Coconino County Medical Examiner's Office. No additional information is available at this time.
-NPS-
 
 

Tom Martin via FB

Of course, I could be wrong, but it sure sounds like a Grand Canyon river concessionaire company named Canyoneers had one of their 41 foot long C-Craft motorized tour boats run into a large boulder just off shore from river left in the Colorado River at approximately 57.0 Mile. The incident occurred late morning of Monday April 26 on the Colorado River in Grand Canyon National Park. This location is 0.5 miles downstream of Kwagunt Rapid and the river is approximately 200 feet wide where the accident occurred. This boulder is normally easily passed on river right with little attention paid to it. It appears the boat was off its intended course and when the crew became aware of the need to take corrective action, the outboard motor powering the craft was unable to get the large boat clear of the boulder fast enough. It is unknown if wind was a factor in the boat being off course.

The boat reportedly struck and rode up on the rock then rolled over and floated on downriver. All passengers and crew were wearing lifejackets and suddenly found themselves in the Colorado River floating downstream adjacent to the overturned craft. Reports indicate some of the individuals involved were lodged under the craft immediately after the flip. This boat was the second of a two C-craft trip and the first C-craft may have been far enough downriver to be unaware of what had happened to the second C-craft. One individual became unresponsive and did not recover after receiving a long period of CPR. The next river trip to arrive was able to assist and moved a number of passengers downriver to the lead C-craft. The reunited group camped for the night where they were, making the best of the situation through a cold night short of sleep kits and tents. All passengers and crew were at the South Rim of Grand Canyon by midday April 28. Some were extracted by NPS helicopter, others chose to ride a rescue motorized tour boat to Phantom Ranch located roughly thirty miles downstream of where the accident occurred and hike out.

Large motorized tour boats make hundreds of trips through Grand Canyon yearly and flips of these boats are rare but do occur. The operator of this craft, Canyoneers, had a river related fatality on one of their river trips in 2018 and a Canyoneers motorized tour boat flipped in Crystal Rapid in 1989. The company is not answering questions about the accident, and all the river concessions are referring inquiries to Grand Canyon National Park where Park officials refused to comment further on the accident after releasing the above press release.

 
"There were high, gusty winds that day. Running a big motor rig is a bit like poling a canoe upstream; one can't move the bow left or right without bringing the stern "under" the bow. It's not hard to understand how a gust of wind could have blown the bow to one side, and there wasn't enough room to get the stern in position to push the bow back to safety, instead hitting the rock sideways."
 

1 dead, 2 injured in boating accident inside Grand Canyon

Officials at Grand Canyon National Park say one person has died and two others have been injured in a boating accident on the Colorado River

By FELICIA FONSECA Associated Press

April 27, 2021

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. -- One person died and two others were injured in a rafting accident on the Colorado River inside Grand Canyon National Park, authorities said Tuesday.

A commercial river trip requested help around 11 a.m. Monday after a motorized raft overturned near Kwagunt Rapid, which has a 12-foot (3.6-meter) drop and ranks in the middle for difficulty. It's about 56 miles (90 kilometers) down the river from where the trip launched at Lees Ferry.

A cold front had moved in with strong wind and snow on the canyon's rim, preventing the park's helicopter from responding immediately. Crews in two rescue boats set out later Monday and reached the site Tuesday morning, Grand Canyon spokeswoman Kaitlyn Thomas said.

A 60-year-old woman who had other family members on the trip died, and two other adults had shoulder injuries. John Dillon, the executive director of the Grand Canyon River Outfitters Association, said the 16 commercial outfitters permitted to operate in the Grand Canyon are making themselves available for any help with the investigation.

“The incredible unlikelihood of a motor rig accident like this, especially in this particular location and at these water levels, comes as a total and complete shock to all of us,” he said in a statement to The Associated Press. “Our hearts go out to those involved, and we ask for everyone to give them the space and time to deal with these events.”

Thomas declined to identify the deceased woman or her hometown, saying the information was being withheld at the request of the family. The woman and the injured rafters were airlifted out of the Grand Canyon later Tuesday. Thomas and Dillon also declined to name the operator of the commercial trip and it was unclear how many people were on the raft that overturned. “While the initial report was 17 on the raft, the only thing we know for sure is that there were 36 individuals, passengers and crew, on both rafts at the time of the accident,” Thomas said.

It's also unclear whether any of the rafters were wearing life jackets. Thomas wouldn't say, citing the ongoing investigation by the National Park Service and the Coconino County Medical Examiner's Office. “We'll definitely be looking at the circumstances that led up to the accident and any circumstances surrounding the fatality,” Thomas said. The rest of the rafting trip was called off, with participants either being airlifted out or hiking out at Phantom Ranch.

The woman's death is the third this year within Grand Canyon National Park. The other two were probable suicides, with bodies recovered below the rim, Thomas said. The Colorado River flows through 277 miles (446 kilometers) of the Grand Canyon. The commercial trips run between April and October, with a total of about 22,000 guests on 620 trips. Private river trips run year-round and are permitted through a highly competitive lottery system.

 

A Woman Was Killed And Two Others Injured After A Boating Accident On The Colorado River

Dave Zorn

April 27, 2021

KAFF Flagstaff, AZ

One person was killed and two others were injured after a boating accident on the Colorado River inside the Grand Canyon. National Park officials say they received a call at around 11 a.m. Monday about the accident near Kwagunt Rapid at river mile 56. A commercial river trip requested help with an overturned motorboat with injuries. Due to adverse weather conditions, the park helicopter wasn’t able to respond immediately. Two swiftwater rescue crews arrived on the scene early Tuesday morning. A 60-year-old female was pronounced dead at the scene. The park helicopter was able to airlift the two injured people and the woman’s body out of the area. An investigation into the incident is being conducted by the National Park Service, along with the Coconino County Medical Examiner’s Office.

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