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Accident Description


I was paddling the Upper Yough with my wife and another couple when we stopped at the eddy above Lost and Found rapid. The rapid starts with some slots that head toward the rock "tombstone" and you must go right to avoid the undercut trash to the left. After bouncing down some rock jumbles it ends in "F****ed up Falls" a sticky hole with a big pillow in the middle and a nasty aerated left side that is very "keepy". Most people punch the middle or run the tongues on the sides of the falls. I eddied out to the left of the falls just in time to see all of the rafts cut me off from my group. I decided to empty my boat and watch the ~10 rafts run pretty clean lines down the slots.

The last two shredders bounced off tombstone and the last one flipped dropping the girl and guy into the water. The guy was in the middle of the river right behind the shredder and when he hit the hole he stalled but then grabbed the shredder and it pulled him out. The girl hit the hole a little more left and really went deep. She came up right at the boil line and instead of popping downstream, she got a breath and it threw her back into the deep part of the hole. It recirc'ed her again but this time when she got a breath she was much further left into the aerated "pit". On the third recirculation her face did not clear and she just dropped into the pit and did not come back up.

I thought "holy crap" this gal is in deep trouble. I took my waist throw bag and threw just upstream of her ( all I could see was the top of her helmet now) and the rope went over her head and downstream. I reeled it back in and threw the wet bag ( a terrible throw) but it landed at the boil line and instead of going downstream it kind of bubbled into the hole. I kept shouting to grab the rope (all I saw was top of the black helmet) and I felt a tug kind of like a fish on the line. I started hauling her to shore as fast as I could, I landed on my ass when she hit current but she belayed into the backend of the eddy my boat was in.

I kept shouting just to hold onto the rope but I saw she was not really "mentally" there yet, she just stood and sucked air. Martin, my buddy, came into the eddy and talked to her and coaxed her onto the rock a little better but she would not let go of the rope. Some of her group then came by in kayaks and were trying to tell her to walk down the shore but I signalled that someone should come up and get her. After a while she was starting to talk and seemed to be doing OK. Someone finally climbed up the rocks and walked with her down to their shredder and she decided to be a passenger the rest of run.

I don't know how long she was under but it was at least 3-5 recirculations, and two poor throws on my part before she was able get air. I am really glad she hung in there. It really scared me how that hole would not let her out. My understanding is that she was new to whitewater and her boyfriend was talking her down in a raft or he was in a kayak in the same group. She did not have a very lengthy understanding of whitewater.

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