We are sad to report the death of a kayaker on one of our guided trips. The accident happened on February 11, 2022. A group of seven kayakers—two guides and five guests—were running the Bombòn section of the Quijos River in Ecuador. The river level was low, reading 4.3 on the online gauge below the Oyacachi/Quijos confluence.
At about one o'clock, the group stopped to scout the rapid "Curvas Peligrosas" from a gravel bar on river left. After scouting and discussion, four guests and two guides decided to run it, one guest opted to walk the rapid. The kayaker successfully avoided the big hole on the first curve, but then flipped on the eddy line downstream of the hole. He rolled up, but then drifted out of the eddy, where he flipped again. He was then swept into shallow water on river left, above the wall between the first and second curves of the rapid. A couple seconds later, it appeared that his head and/or upper body became entrapped. He was still upside down and still in his kayak. The kayaker pulled his sprayskirt and kicked free of his kayak, but he remained trapped underwater.
SWA guides and group members quickly made contact with the kayaker but were unable to free him immediately despite heroic rescue efforts. Although a doctor was on scene, CPR was not successful. We send our thoughts and deep condolences to the kayaker's family.
Birmingham, AL Facebook page:
To our paddling community,
I am very sad to notify you of the tragic passing of Patrick Riley, a great human that lived his truth and shared his life with anyone who was lucky enough to come in contact with him. Patrick Riley, 62, died February 11th 2022 while paddling the beautiful boulder strewn Quijos River in Ecuador in a freak accident that defied odds. He lived his last days without regret up to the last moments of his life.
He was loved by all and we will miss him dearly. The love of his family was palpable as he shared his stories with us all. Our hearts go out to his wife Christina and his children Brendan and Brigid.