Accident Database

Report ID# 3093

  • Caught in a Natural Hydraulic
  • Swim into Strainer
  • Does not Apply
  • Cold Water

Accident Description

The Mining Journal, Marquette, MI

POSTED: April 19, 2009

L'ANSE - A Houghton man is dead after a kayaking accident that occurred on the Silver River in Baraga County Friday evening. Richard Honrath Jr., 47, was pronounced dead at Baraga Memorial Hospital. Baraga County Sheriff's deputies went to the Silver River in L'Anse Township, shortly after 8:20 p.m. to assist a kayaker who was reportedly "pinned against a tree." Deputies found Honrath pinned under a tree in fast-moving rapids. He was pulled from the water and taken to the hospital.

Honrath and his partner, Dave Bullock, 38, of downstate St. Johns had entered the Silver River about two miles upstream from where the incident occurred. Bullock told police that Honrath had rolled and was separated from his kayak. Bullock attempted a rescue with a throw rope, but all attempts failed. According to Bullock, he and Honrath had been kayaking together for about 15 years and were familiar with the Silver River. The L'Anse Fire Department, Bay Ambulance, Keweenaw Bay Tribal Police and the L'Anse and Baraga village police departments assisted with the incident.

The Silver River is one of the best creek runs on Michigan's Upper Peninsula. On May 17th two men met to paddle the Middle Silver after work. Both were very experienced local paddlers who knew this two-mile section well. They had no problems at the first big drop, Hail Mary, and they passed cleanly though the ledges below. The final drop, the "Cabins Section", is a long, complex Class V. Here they scouted. Afterwards, Dave Bullock elected to portage the drop and set safety for Richard Honrath.

Mr. Honrath, 47, ran the top pourover a series of small ledges culminating in a 10' drop. The next feature was a 6' pourover with a bad hole on the left and a sluice on the right. He missed an eddy that set up a ferry right and was pushed over the pourover into the hole. He tried to surf out, rolling once before bailing out. His boast filled with water and washed free, but Mr. Honrath recirculated in the backwash for some time. Mr. Bullock threw his throw rope a 6 - 10 times; many throws were on target but Mr. Honrath was too exhausted or disoriented to grab hold. He finally washed out and floated around the corner.

Mr. Bullock grabbed his boat and took off after him. He found Mr. Honrath caught on an overhanging tree; his boat had eddied out nearby. After trying to free him, Mr. Bullock paddled a half- mile to the takeout where he flagged down a car and asked the driver to call 911. Then he headed back upstream where he continued his efforts to free Mr. Honrath. He was later joined by 8-10 people from the local rescue squad, and together they brought Mr. Honrath ashore and began CPR. He was taken to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead. The holke is river left of the chute

Join AW and support river stewardship nationwide!