Accident Database

Report ID# 2470

  • Equipment Trap
  • Near Drowning
  • Other

Accident Description

 In early June a fast thinking kayaker made an innovative rescue of a rafting guest on Pennsylvania's Lower Youghiogheny River. The woman, who was stranded on a midstream rock, was being rescued by a guide using a throw bag when the unexpected happened. As she swung to shore on the rope the "bag end" got caught between some rocks, leaving her holding onto the line in the middle. The guide let go of his end of the rope, but as the woman floated downstream the free end of the line wrapped around her leg. She was left to dangle in the current head-first. A guide waded out and tried to cut the rope, but succeeded only in cutting himself badly.

Heather Rau, who was shooting video for her company, saw what was happening and moved in fast. She paddled her kayak in front of the woman and told her to grab hold of the bow. By now the victim had been struggling to breathe for several minutes. Her grip was weak and she could barely hold on. Heather paddled hard upstream, forcing the boat under her chest. This put some slack into the rope, allowing a second guide to free her.

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