Accident Database

Report ID# 114936

  • Flush Drowning
  • Does not Apply
  • Other

Accident Description

Boater Fatality on the Colorado River in Grand Canyon National Park
Grand Canyon News Release 
June 15, 2021
Contact: Joelle Baird, 928-606-3154
GRAND CANYON, Ariz. - On Monday, June 14 at approximately 10 a.m., Grand Canyon National Park was alerted to a personal locator beacon activation from a non-commercial river trip near Hance Rapid on the Colorado River. The Grand Canyon Regional Communications Center then received a report that CPR was in progress.
James Crocker, 63, of Lakewood, Colorado, entered the river at the top of Hance Rapid, Colorado River mile 77. Members of the group pulled him out of the water, noted he was unresponsive, and began CPR. Park rangers were flown into the location with the park helicopter and all resuscitation efforts were unsuccessful. Crocker was on day six of a multi-day private boating trip.
An investigation into the incident is being conducted by the National Park Service and the Coconino County Medical Examiner. No further information is available at this time.
Grand Canyon National Park, located in northern Arizona, encompasses 277 miles (446 km) of the Colorado River and adjacent uplands. One of the most spectacular examples of erosion anywhere in the world, Grand Canyon is unmatched in the incomparable vistas it offers visitors on the rim. Grand Canyon National Park is a World Heritage Site. The National Park Service cares for the special places saved by the American people so that all may experience our heritage.
Accident  site was Emilio's Hole, top right in Hance Rapid

Colorado man dies on private rafting trip down Grand Canyon

Adrian Skabelund, Arizona Daily Sun

 Jun 15, 2021 One person died on a private rafting trip through the Grand Canyon, officials with the national park announced Tuesday. James Crocker, 63, of Lakewood, Colorado, died Monday after he fell out of a boat as his group was running Hance Rapid at about river mile 77. The incident occurred on the sixth day of the voyage after the trip launched from Lees Ferry in several non-motorized boats on June 9.

Although the incident is still under investigation, national park spokesperson Joelle Baird said they believe the boat Crocker was riding entered a large hole near the top of the Hance Rapid, and that although the boat did not flip, Crocker ended up in the water.

Baird said the hole the boat entered is significant and one that can be dangerous if not navigated well. “It's a very prominent whitewater feature, and there's usually pretty big consequences for boats or kayaks that enter this hole,” Baird said. Crocker was wearing a life jacket at the time, Baird said. Members of the group pulled him out of the water, noted he was unresponsive and began CPR.

The park was notified of the incident at approximately 10 a.m. Monday when someone on the trip activated a personal locator beacon and the Grand Canyon Regional Communications Center then received a report that CPR was in progress. Park rangers were flown into the location with the park helicopter, and all resuscitation efforts were unsuccessful. b Crocker and one other member of the trip were then flown by helicopter out of the canyon, Baird said. Crocker was transported to the Coconino County Medical Examiner’s office.

Hance Rapid is known as one of the larger, and potentially more deadly, rapids on the upper half of the river. It is one that Baird said even seasoned river runners often scout before each run in order to get a look at the rapid and plan their approach before entering. It is not known whether the group scouted the rapid. "The hydraulics of the river are pretty incredible for that rapid and yesterday, the river is a little lower than normal. It's running about 8,000 cubic feet per second,” Baird said. “[The hole] is definitely one of the biggest features in that rapid as well as just a lot of rocks too, especially on river right.”

It is not known how many other people were on the trip, but besides Crocker and the other member who was flown out, Baird said the trip will continue on its proposed itinerary down the river. There were no other injuries.

The incident comes after another death on the river that occurred on a commercial trip in April. In that case, a large motor-propelled raft flipped in the Kwagunt Rapid, leading to the death of a 60-year-old woman and injuries for two other passengers.

Permits for private trips down the Colorado are highly sought after and difficult to get. The park utilizes a lottery each year to award permits and it can often take several years of trying before a permit is issued.

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