Accident Database

Report ID# 3225

  • Pinned in Boat against Rock or Sieve
  • Does not Apply
  • Other

Accident Description

 Mountainbuzz Post

Here is my understanding of what took place. Derk and another boater who wishes to stay out of the situation, put on the Big South today. As they approached Bouncing Betty Derk decided to run the rapid, yet appeared to be casually floating into it. Flows were probably about 120 cfs out of Long Draw, which left the right side of the slot very exposed. It appeared that Derk was angled too far to the right and became pinned in the right side of Bouncing Betty.

At this point the other boater realized that something was wrong and came over and began to get the boat free. Derk was still in the boat at this point. According to the other boater, this process might have taken up to three minutes. Finally, the boater got Derk’s boat free and at this point Derk came free of the boat and floated into the eddy. The other boater then had to ferry over and grabbed Derk and pulled him to shore and immediately began CPR. No one could really tell if Derk was unconscious when pinned or why he could not get out of the boat, until unpinned. Summit Daily News


SUMMIT COUNTY — Derk Slottow, a 21-year-old Summit High School graduate from Summit Cove, died Saturday in a kayaking accident. He was paddling on the Big South Fork of the Cache La Poudre River in Larimer County just west of Fort Collins. According to Larimer County officials, he drowned after flipping and hitting his head. (NB-Local says the head inhuries were from a previous flip) “He ran it (the same section of the river) on Thursday,” said Luke Slottow, his father. “I think it was just a freak accident.” A friend traveling with Slottow pulled him from the water after the accident and performed CPR.

The friend then left to find help — he trekked almost two miles to notify a Rocky Mountain National Park ranger of the accident at the Corral Creek Trailhead. That ranger called the Larimer County Sheriff's Office dispatch for help around noon. Six Larimer County Search and Rescue members, three Colorado State Park rangers and three members of the North Park Volunteer Fire Department aided in the recovery. Slottow's body was carried out because the secluded area wasn't accessible to county vehicles, said Mike Fink, the public information officer for the Larimer County Sheriff's Office. Fink said he didn't know any specifics about events leading up to the accident. “To the best of my knowledge, this is the first fatality ever on the Big South” branch of the river, Fink said.

Bouncing betty is a narrow slot drop with a rock outcropping on the right.  A good portion of the flow goes under the rock outcropping and boils up in the pool below.  The left side of the drop can be run with hard left angle and right to left momentum to avoid the rock outcropping.  Derk entered the drop straight on, and without left angle, and ended up going under the rock outcropping and his boat was wedged upside down under the rock outcropping.  The second paddler was in an eddy above the drop and did not see Derk come through and realized something was wrong. He got out of his boat on river right and ran down to the drop.  He saw Derk's boat pinned in the drop, and the boat appeared to be upside down (ie head down) with the nose of the boat visible under the rock in the bottom of the drop. 
The second paddler got into the pool below the drop, was able to grab onto rocks that make up the drop and was able to get over to the boat and get a hand of the nose of the boat.  The boat was wedged tightly and it took a huge effort for the paddler to pull the boat out after multiple pull attempts.  When the boat finally came free, the boat washed into a recirculating eddy on river left with Derk still upside down and unconcious.  The eddy he washed into was on the other side of the river from the rescuer and a strong jet of current separated them. The second paddler then ran back up to his boat above the drop, ferried across the river, and got down to the eddy.  The eddy has steep rock walls and the rescuer had to grab the boat and haul Derk out of the water and up several feet onto the bank.  After the rescuer got Derk, still in his boat, out of the water, he pulled him out of the boat and started CPR. 
Derk was unresponsive after continued CPR.  It should be noted that the pin potential of the drop is more pronounced at low water as the slot fills in more at higher water.

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