Accident Database

Report ID# 11893

  • Flush Drowning
  • Health Problem
  • Does not Apply
  • Other

Accident Description

Hi Charlie, I unfortunately have an update to the AW incident report for July. Mike (Bubba) Brinks died on a low water yampa river trip, just below teepee rapid, in an IK. I believe it was ruled a flush drowning, aggravated by an existing heart condition. He was wearing a pfd and had decades of whitewater experience. My dad was on the trip with him. - Anna Herring


Man dies in kayaking accident on Yampa River in Moffat County

July 16, 2017

DINOSAUR – A 66 year old man from Craig died this weekend while on a two-person private trip using inflatable kayaks on the Yampa River in Dinosaur National Monument. Release of the deceased's name is pending family notification.

Based on preliminary reports, at approximately 2 p. m. on Saturday, July 15, the kayaker hit a rock in Tepee Rapid, capsized, and never resurfaced. He was wearing a personal flotation device. The reporting party kayaked 24 miles downstream to Hells Canyon Ranch to report the incident. Monument staff were contacted just before 9 p.m. on Saturday evening. Search and rescue efforts were launched Sunday morning.

Due to the remote location of the incident, and low water levels along the Yampa River, monument staff used a helicopter to aid in the response. A contracted helicopter from PJ Helicopters of Red Bluff, California, and the Mesa Verde National Park Helitack Crew were already on-site in the monument for a wildland fire assignment.

At 11:40 a.m. on Sunday morning, the kayaker's body was located approximately 3 miles downstream from the point last seen. The body was recovered from the river and transported to the Moffat County Coroner. The Moffat County Sheriff's Department is a partner in the investigation.


Denver Post
By Bruce Finley | | The Denver Post
PUBLISHED: July 16, 2017 at 6:15 pm | UPDATED: July 17, 2017 at 8:26 am
A 66-year-old man from Craig died kayaking on the Yampa River in Dinosaur National Monument this weekend, apparently after hitting a rock in the TePee Rapid on Saturday afternoon and capsizing. It was the fourth river fatality in Dinosaur during the past couple of years. The man was wearing a flotation vest as he ran the rapid around 2 p.m. in his inflatable kayak, and he had experience navigating rivers, National Park Service spokeswoman Sonya Popelka said. “It is a confirmed drowning,” Popelka said.
The man’s partner paddled 24 miles downriver from the rapid to Hells Canyon Ranch on Saturday night and alerted authorities of the accident around 9 p.m. On Sunday, a PJ Helicopters contract chopper flying from  Mesa Verde National Park, diverting from wildland fire work, found the body about 3 miles downriver from the rapid. Helicopter crew members plucked the dead man from the river.
Dinosaur monument staffers then hauled the body to the Moffat County coroner for an autopsy, which could determine whether a heart attack or other problem triggered by intense activity might have been a factor in the death. The man’s name wasn’t released, pending notification of his relatives.
The Yampa River has been running relatively low, at 680 cubic feet per second. High waters in spring bring flows at 9,000 cfs and above. Low flows mean more rock hazards are visible.
This was the second river fatality inside Dinosaur this year. A rafter died in June on the Green River, which meets the Yampa in the middle of Dinosaur. Last year, two people rafting in Dinosaur died, one after climbing on rocks above water and falling, the other while rafting down the Green.
Permits are required to run the river, Popelka said. “It is always a wild environment.”


Kayaker who drowned in the Yampa River is identified

Second kayaker paddled 24 miles to summon helpB


By Kieran Nicholson, The Denver Post

PUBLISHED: July 18, 2017 at 7:11 pm | UPDATED: July 19, 2017 at 12:16 am

A 66-year-old man who drowned in the Yampa River when his kayak hit a rock and flipped has been identified. Michael Brinks of Craig was on a two-person private trip using an inflatable kayak Saturday in Dinosaur National Monument when the accident happened, according to a news release from the monument.

The crash happened about 2 p.m. in the Tepee Rapid. Brinks, who was reported to be wearing a personal flotation device, didn’t resurface.

After the craft capsized, the second kayaker paddled 24 miles downriver to Hells Canyon Ranch to report the incident.

Brinks’ body was found Sunday morning, spotted by helicopter, about 3 miles downstream from where the kayak ran into trouble, in a remote section of the Yampa.

An investigation, which includes the Moffat County Sheriff’s Department, is ongoing.

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