Accident Database

Report ID# 27

  • Pinned in Boat against Rock or Sieve
  • Does not Apply
  • Other

Accident Description

The Rio Jatate flows through a steep walled tropical gorge just south of the Guatamalan border. The accident occured on a commercially guided trip that included paddlers with a wide range of abilities. Each boat carried food and personal gear.

A member of the trip, identified only as "Jack" hit an undercut midstream boulder in the middle of the first rapid, flipped upstream, and pinned fast.. He had been warned to avoid the rock by the guide. The tripleader swam out to the rock and released the boat in seconds. There was no sign of Jack. After he washed away a second guide lowered himself into position above the rock. Taking unusual risks he was able to grab Jack's arm but could not pull him free. Elapsed time at this point was a bout one minute. A rope was attached to the arm and the group pulled hard, but did not succeed. A rope attached to the torso was frayed and snapped when pulled.

By this time it was getting dark, and Jack was clearly dead. The group made camp at the site, leaving the rope tied to Jack's hand to facilitate extrication the next day. It took over an hour to release the body, which was then wrapped in a sleeping bag, placed inside a kayak, and hauled to the canyon rim.

Source: Paul Hoobyar, Canoe Magazine, October 1986

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