Angler dies after spill in Yankee Jim Canyon
By SCOTT McMILLION Chronicle Staff Writer
LIVINGSTON - A Paradise Valley man drowned in the Yellowstone River on Saturday, in rapids about 15 miles north of Gardiner, according to the Park County Sheriff's Office. Max Braune, 74, was fishing with a companion late Saturday afternoon in the Corwin Springs area, Sheriff's Lt. Doug Wonders said. Braune was manning the oars in a drift boat, but missed the takeout at the Joe Brown fishing access site above the rapids in Yankee Jim Canyon.
A companion jumped out of the boat on the river's east bank and tried but failed to pull the vessel in with a rope, Capt. Scott Hamilton said. Braune then rowed across the river to an eddy, while the companion walked back to a car parked at the access site. Some fishermen then arrived and saw Braune in the eddy for 20 or 30 minutes, Hamilton said. Braune tried to row across the river and was yelling for the anglers to catch his rope. But he didn't get close enough and was swept downstream where his boat hit a rock, turned sideways and Braune was knocked out of the boat, Hamilton said. Braune was not wearing a life jacket, officials said.
Entering the rapids in a drift boat “was not intentional” on Braune's part, Hamilton said. One of the anglers followed Braune after he capsized, trying to keep him in sight, but lost him along the rocky bank. The man returned to his car, drove downstream and saw some kayakers retrieving the body. A Yellowstone National Park ambulance “happened to be passing by,” Wonders said, but rescue crew members couldn't revive him.
Wonders said Braune suffered head injuries but died from drowning. Yankee Jim Canyon contains the biggest rapids on the Yellowstone River. It's a popular run with recreational boaters but has claimed many victims over the years. Few, if any, of those were wearing life jackets. “I wish people would wear their life jackets when they're on the river,” Hamilton said. The river was flowing at about 5,300 cubic feet per second Saturday, according to the U.S. Geological Survey's Web site. That's about half of the average flow for that day.