Accident Database

Report ID# 2725

  • Flush Drowning
  • Does not Apply
  • Other

Accident Description

 RRFW Riverwire –

River Runner Drowned at Hance Rapid

March 17, 2008

Randall Johnson, 45, a non-commercial river runner flipped his raft in Hance Rapid on the afternoon of March 16, 2008, on the Colorado River in Grand Canyon National Park. He was quickly retrieved from the water by other members of the group but was unresponsive.

Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) was initiated immediately. The NPS was unable to fly a helicopter rescue mission that afternoon as the canyon was socked in with fog and snow showers were reported at the South Rim Helibase. The group of river runners conducted a heroic attempt at CPR for well over an hour while traveling downstream to Grapevine Camp, five miles below Hance Rapid, arriving at Grapevine at roughly 5:00PM. The river flow was approximately 11,000 cubic feet per second (cfs), five days after the end of the 41,000 cfs high flow experiment.

According to a Grand Canyon National Park press release posted this afternoon, the river trip continued downriver this morning to Phantom Ranch where they were met by park rangers. The man’s body was flown out of the canyon to the South Rim Helibase, transferred to the Coconino County Medical Examiner and taken to Flagstaff, Arizona. According to the Park Service, an autopsy will be performed to determine cause of death, and the Park Service is conducting its own ongoing investigation into the incident at this time. River Runners for Wilderness extends our condolences to the family and trip members.

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