Accident Database

Report ID# 116167

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  • Pinned in Boat Against Strainer
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Accident Description

Mike Feeheeley was the victim

From Isaac Levinson

There is 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.  Class 2 move to avoid it, low water, 75 degree day, rare that the river is running in June. Easy to get relaxed out there.

 

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

 

 

From Bryan Tooley

Here's what I've learned from my boy's, who had paddled with him:  1) It happened in an early rapid with a large strainer on the right, which you seek on the left.  The strainer has since been cut out. 2) the person who died has gotten grief for numerous swims and lost boats on the LW over the past couple of years.  3) he had a family 4) there's a memorial paddle for him coming up

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