Accident Database

Report ID# 2893

  • Impact/Trauma
  • Head Injury / Concussion
  • Other

Accident Description

From Kayak Idaho

The last time Bill was in his boat he was seen surfing and window shading in a large ledge hole. His son Rob told me he looked at the ledge and you could see a large fan rock sticking out of the middle of it. As Bill was swimming he was unresponsive to the kayakers chasing him. When his body was recovered he was found with severe head injuries including a broken jaw. Where Bill swam at this flow it was pretty mellow. An alert Bill Studebaker would have been able to swim out without a problem. These facts leave us to believe he smacked his head and face while window shadeing in the shallow hole.


If nothing else, this accident, as well as Conrad's last summer, should be a reminder to us all of the razor thin line we walk when running class V.  All facets of our preparation must be in line - our gear, our skills, our conditioning, our mindset, our assessment of the conditions etc.  And even then, if a small mistake is made, an eddy missed, a hole not punched, it is easy to lose control.  In a rapid as long as Fright Stimulator there is no forgiveness.  I have seen things as minor as a guy not paying attention to a PFD strap getting stuffed under his spray skirt causing a swim because during a flip the strap pulled his skirt off.  Attention to detail is important...and even then, anything can happen.  RIP Bill


BOISE - The body of an Idaho poet was found in the East Fork of the South Fork of the Salmon River Monday afternoon July 7, 2008. Bill Studebaker, 61, was last seen Friday floating down the river near Yellow Pine when he hit a class five rapid which caused his kayak to roll.The Valley County Sheriff's Office said his body has been located, and the McCall Dive Team will pull it from the river. Studebaker's friend Rod Burks was kayaking with him when the accident happened. "Then there was a series of rocks and ledges after that that every time he rolled up he hit another one, and it caused him to flip and it was just a series of I think they counted seven,” Burks said. “At that stage he is probably really tired.” Burks tried to rescue Studebaker but was unable to reach him.


He's the author of about a dozen books of poetry and non-fiction, including "Short of a Good Promise," a 1999 reminiscence of growing up in the remote Idaho backcountry following World War II.



Family and friends of Studebaket will hold a public memorial service for him from 2 to 3:30 p.m. at the College of Southern Idaho this Saturday, July 12th. It will be in the Rick Allen Community Room at the Herrett Center for Arts and Science. instead of flowers, the family invites memorial attendees to bring a rock of their choice to honor him. Those rocks will be added to the landscaping at the Herrett Center.


Idaho poet, kayaker William Studebaker presumed drowned

Studebaker, 61, was last seen south of Yellow Pine. Idaho has lost a 'true force of nature,' a friend says.


One of Idaho's foremost poets and kayakers is missing and was presumed drowned Friday south of Yellow Pine while kayaking in challenging rapids with friends .William Studebaker, 61, of Twin Falls, was first seen swimming for shore Friday morning on the East Fork of the South Fork of the Salmon River and then floating face down.


Friends on the road and in kayaks could not find him, though his kayak and other gear were recovered Friday. Valley County Search and Rescue, local law enforcement and emergency crews from various agencies also were unable to find him. Friends, kayakers and rescue crews continued searching Saturday, but high water runoff and the swiftness of the river hampered efforts, said Lt. Dan Smith of the Valley County Sheriff's Office.


"It's a huge blow," said Shelley Gardner, a friend and an owner of Idaho Guide Service, for which Studebaker worked. "He was the premier kayaker. His love for the river ... he was just so passionate. He was an amazing storyteller. He will be missed." Studebaker was a well-known Idaho poet, essayist and outdoor photographer. "He's a great spirit," said Paul Shaffer, executive director of The Cabin, a literary center in Boise. "He was a terrific writer, fabulous teacher, one of the most capable boaters. He was all Idaho. He really loved this state."


Studebaker was born and raised in Salmon, friends said. He spent 30 years at the College of Southern Idaho in Twin Falls, teaching English and coordinating the outdoors program before retiring in 2005. Studebaker and his wife, Judy, have four sons. "He had little patience for people who said they wanted to write if they only had the time," said Rick Ardinger, a longtime friend, owner of Limberlost Press and collaborator with Studebaker. "He raised four kids, taught at the university, built a house, raised bird dogs. He lived to the fullest." Studebaker worked as a correspondent and feature writer for the Times-News and as a feature writer for Idaho Magazine. He frequently published in Tertulia, an online magazine, journals and reviews. Studebaker also taught literature classes for Idaho State University. He received the Idaho Humanities Council's Outstanding Humanist Award for 2005.

"He's the true Idaho poet laureate," Ardinger said. "He was born in this state and has written about it so eloquently."


Studebaker's books include "Short of a Good Promise," which details the life of his family in the vast expanses of southern Idaho, and "River Religion," a collection of kayaking poems and "... histories of adrenaline rushes I have waltzed through or limboed under." "His poetry was about Idaho, the rivers the landscape," Ardinger said. "He writes about the desert." Ardinger, executive director of the Idaho Humanities Council, said Studebaker was engaged in the arts and in preservation of the literary heritage of Idaho. "It was not just for his own writing," Ardinger said. "He has always had a fascination for the literature of Idaho. He was an editor, a collaborator. He's been a wonderful friend but he's also been a great ... we're losing a lot. We're not just losing a friend, we're losing a force - a literary force, a true force of nature. He put his whole heart into everything he did." Ardinger believes Studebaker may have died doing something he loved and wouldn't have wanted it differently."He'd always say, 'I'm not going to die in a bed,'" Ardinger said.


Sandra Forester: 377-6464


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