TWO BOYS PINNED AGAINST BRIDGE PIER
Wenachee River near Leavenworth, WA: June 4, 1995
Gradient 22 fpm; Volume/moderate; Classification III
DESCRIPTION: The Wenachee River near Leavenworth, Washington is a popular big-water run for commercial and private paddlers throughout the Northwest. On June 4th the water level was moderate. A church group in Kent, Washington was on a commercial rafting trip as one boat approached the huge pilings of the Route 2 bridge. They asked the guide for instructions, but he felt they could drift by. Seconds later the raft slammed into the bridge. The guide and three guests were thrown clear, but Ryan Bruner, 12, and Richard Johnson, 38, got their legs caught in the perimeter line and were held under water. It took four hours for rescue crews, equipped with a crane, to lift the raft free and recover the bodies.
SOURCE: Seattle Times via Jon Almquist at Pacific Water Sports
1) Bridge piers might seem easy to avoid, but pinnings and fatalities resulting from collisions are not uncommon. They should never be taken lightly by boaters of any ability.
2) Perimeter lines have been implicated in numerous fatalities. They should be kept snug at all times or replaced with handles.