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.