Accident Database

Report ID# 116167

  • Pinned in Boat Against Strainer
  • Does not Apply
  • Other

Accident Description

From Andy Farquhar:

I was in the same group with Mike, other groups would end up meeting us due to the incident. I was one of the first people down in the prayer flag eddy and in my boat as was usual. Tyson Cross was upstream and saw Mike go into the river right slot and shortly thereafter came to the prayer flag eddy. While waiting in the eddy I heard a single whistle blast, then a second single whistle blast so I then ferried over to an eddy on river left to see what was going on. I then saw Tyson and he let me know Mike had gone into the wrong slot and we both then raced over back to the prayer flag eddy. Ben Mckenzie was directing us from the log to get out on river right (prayer flag eddy). 

Tyson was the first to ferry back over, then I ferried over after him. Tyson got out first and I hung out at the side of the eddy not knowing what exactly had happened. While Tyson was getting out of his boat I saw a black helmet pop up on the eddy line, it was upright but seemed apparent it was not attached to anyone. I immediately went to get out of my boat and climbed up the rocks with a throw bag to see what was going on. During this time Tyson and Ben were tossing their throw bags into the log jam upstream of the prayer flag eddy to try to make contact with Mike. I came up to see Tyson standing facing towards me and Mike’s red boat pinned, cockpit facing downstream trapped against the log jam. 
I asked Tyson "Where's Mikey?!?"
"He's gone." Tyson replied
We started looking around the log jam to see if we could see any sign of Mike at all. Tyson had the idea that there may be a possibility he could be trapped in an air pocket so we should see if we can call for him. We spent the next few minutes going around the log jam screaming Mike’s name just to see if we could possibly hear a response. No luck. We then saw Mikey's paddle pop up where the helmet did.
A couple others in the group went down to chase after the paddle and helmet. They eventually hiked back up.
Others in our group and from other groups helped with the rescue effort. We discussed possibly live bait to rescue but was decided it would be too dangerous. At this point we figured it had become a recovery situation rather than rescue. We then came up with a plan top have Ben Mckenzie go out toward the edges of the log jam with a paddle to prod around to see if Mike could be located. He was backed up by three other people and live baited. Charlie Brockaway and I went to the big rock with a rope ready for downstream safety. While this was going on I saw Mike’s life jacket pop up in the same spot as the helmet and paddle. Ben tried a few times to prod around but the wood was so unstable we decided to call it off and make a plan to get out since it was getting dark at this point. Those who had paddled down to chase Mike’s gear had finished hiking back up.
At this point the group decided to split into two. One group paddled out the rest of the group hiked out. The group that hiked out was able to make contact with the sheriffs office first. 
The logjam was removed by paddlers in the community within the following week and Mike himself was ultimately recovered a few months later.


From Charlie Brockaway:

I was the second of two behind Mikey when it happened, Ben McKenzie was in front of me. I am still not sure of exactly what happened, Ben isn't either. My best guess is that people were spaced to close together and Mikey tried to catch the eddy behind the rock that most people charge over to get over and into the slot or he got deflected off of the rock.

 There is a large boulder which divided the river between 10% flow going down the slot and about 90% of the flow going into the logjam. The last thing I saw was Mike paddling hard to try to get left, realizing he wasn't going to make it and turning around before he went over a small drop that led into the logjam. Ben and I immediately got out river left and climbed onto a large old growth log that spanned the river. Ben blew his whistle three times notifying those downstream, we could not see Mike but saw his boat pinned without him in it. He was in a half slice so I am guessing the first drop may have flipped him when he went over it, arriving in the logjam upside down.

The two of us climbed onto the backside of the logjam and still seeing no sign of Mike, started to fish with our throw bags to see if he would by chance grab it. It was too dangerous to attempt a live bait, water falling about ten feet through a mass of logs and boulders. Ben and I then went to the other side of the river to see if we could live bait under but again, we couldn't see Mike and the risk seemed too high. At some point during this his helmet flushed downstream. After this it was clear that unless he had an air pocket it was too late. We all stuck around and yelled for him in all the crevice's of the logjam. All of us were in disbelief and shock, we sat on the boulder for a while and talked about what had happened. Some hiked out and some continued downstream.

 Mikey was a great human being, one of the most positive and friendly I have met. He also was a great paddler, smooth and stylish. He is missed dearly by those who knew him.


From Isaac Levinson:

There was a massive log jam at the top of the run it’s been there for over 10 years. Really easy portage and also pretty easy sneak option on river left. Mike had apparently run the river many times. Somehow he got flushed into the log jam. Witness said the saw him catch the eddy above it and next thing they knew his helmet and life jacket were floating by. Low water, a 75 degree day, rare that the river is running in June. 

From Michael Peacher:

The first log jam on the little white “Oregon Slot”  has a slot on the left to sneak the log jam.  At lower flows “3.2 and lower” it becomes detrimental to squeeze through the two rocks before the slot.  If you don’t make it between the rocks you can get deflected to the right into the heinous log jam… This has happened to 5 people in the past and they had near death experiences.  Mike was flushed into the log jam backwards and was last seen trying to paddle upstream to avoid it.  That would be impossible as the current there is so swift. Peter Eli was stuffed under there a few years ago and all his gear flushed out then his limp body came out minutes later.  Luckily James Shimizu was there and grabbed him before he flushed into Getting Busy.

I’ve been talking about removing the log jam for years but most the community wouldn’t allow it.  They say “ it’s a catchers mit for the wood” that’s bullshit because every time a log goes in there one goes out.  Those logs aren’t in there as solid as people think and move all the time.

At 7:45ish June 22 Michael Feeheely didn’t make the slot and was swept right into the Oregon Slot log jam.  He was with 3 others I believe.  Two had already made the slot and Mike was going into the log jam backwards.  I believe one person saw him from up top.  The two below saw his helmet, life jacket flush downstream.  The people at the bottom then knew he must be in the log jam. There was nothing anyone could do.  I’m not entirely sure the exact details but that’s what I’ve gathered. 

Some friends of mine and Mike's went in that night in the dark and retrieved the boat out of the logs but couldn’t find Mike.  I had 3 guys with me and we have lots of felling and tree climbing experience.  It seemed the body was still under there so we removed the log jam completely.  Some wood flushed downstream but we pulled that out and bucked it up.  There are some larger logs that aren’t in main channels that are still out there but they won’t move and the run will be low enough to walk down in a month and we will buck them into small pieces as well.

Our removal of the log jam triggered people in the community but they think it was search and rescue… so no heat on us but I think it’s ridiculous people wouldn’t let my friends and I ( William Pruett, William Griffith and Todd Wells) take it out years ago and now one of my friends is dead.  I’m not blaming anyone… just saying.  And to top it off people are still pissed we removed the Log Jam… I don’t care about ethics when there’s something there that killed someone and will kill again.  Lots of people that shouldn’t be out there go when the water gets low.  It’s terrifying watching people beater around out there.  The river looks inviting and friendly but is extremely unforgiving in nature more so than most rivers.

Mikes body was never found.  We believe he flushed downstream in the dark that night after the drowning.  

What blew my mind is we were very careful to not blow out the logjam… only cutting from the top down.  At one point William Griffith pulled out a 6foot long stick and 20+thousand pounds of logs blew out instantly.  It was like a rat trap.  I was on shore getting more veggie oil for my saw as I was walking back out it blew.  3 of us scrambled to safety but the $1500 saw was lost.  There was a 30ft cloud of dust and the entire river turned brown.  We retrieved the logs that flushed downstream but one or two and they aren’t blocking anything

It’s been a rough year loosing friends to the rivers

The next morning was when myself and my crew went in.  I wasn’t clear on that above.  The crew who went in at night was there from 9pm-2am with lights and couldn’t find him.  We went in and cut out the logs the next morning.  The Sheriff and Search and rescue just set trail markers to get in there but didn’t do anything past that to my knowledge



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