Accident Database

Report ID# 280

  • Caught in a Natural Hydraulic
  • Does not Apply
  • One Boat Trip

Accident Description


Lochsa River, Idaho : July 3, 1992

Gradient 30 fpm; Level-Low; Classification IV

DESCRIPTION: The Lochsa River is one of the nicest roadside runs in Idaho . At the low level of July 3 it was an easy Class IV. On July 3, 1992 Poco Bartels, a class V boater, was paddling a Topo-duo with Bonnie Schoenfelter. All other members of the party were class IV boaters who were familiar with the run. The trip was uneventful until after lunch. Here's a description of the accident by Sherie Gibson:

"Poco and Bonnie traded places after lunch and continued to have a precise run with him in the front and her in the stern. At Pipeline the other kayakers floated downstream...Poco and his partner debated whether or not to side-surf in a hole where the "surfing wave" usually is. They entered with their bow facing river right. The hole, although relatively small, was very strong. They both tried to paddle out to no avail. Poco yelled at Bonnie to try harder, then glanced over his shoulder and saw she was doing her best. He turned around, pulled off his sprayskirt, and got out of the boat. The kayak with Bonnie still inside washed out; he got pulled into the hole and recirculated. He was unconscious by the time she got to shore and threw her throw line. When he flushed out a few minutes later, Bonnie swam out and pulled him to shore. The group got together and immediately began CPR. They continued 45 minutes until the helicopter arrived. They flew him to Missoula, Montana . He died on July 4th."

SOURCE: Sherie Gibson; Bonnie Schoenfelter

ANALYSIS: This hole has a bad reputation among Lochsa boaters, but still, it acted capriciously. Bonnie Schoenfelter's hard fought, determined effort to save her friend's life was inspirational, and we can all learn a great deal from her efforts.

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