On May 20th, 1985 a group of kayakers scouted a steep section of the Merced River at El Portal, CA. This is a demanding stretch of Class V whitewater. Three members of the group ran the first drop successfully, running to the left of a large rock. The fourth, Davide Decot, 40, missed his roll and swam to the right of the boulder. A huge Digger Pine, two feet in diameter, had fallen across this chute and blocked it comppletely. Decot swam into the tree and disappeared here without a trace.
A recue squad was calledand was on the scene in fifteen minutes. After some discussion they attempted to cut the tree off with a small chain saw. When this was inneffective, they sent for a bigger saw which arrived an hour later. This did the job easily. When the tree was cut, Decot's boat and body washed free and was recovered some distance downstream.
Source: Gordon Patchin, Lee Miller, Bob Knight, and Keith Beck