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Accident Description

Teen drowns in Skykomish River after rafting accident

By KATU TV Portland, OR

Story Published: Jul 16, 2010 at 3:41 PM PDT

SULTAN, Wash. - Rescue workers have recovered the body of a man who drowned in the Skykomish River on Friday afternoon. The man, said to be in his late teens, was rafting with a group of eight friends on three separate rafts from Sportman's Park around 1 p.m. when one of the rafts struck debris in the river and knocked two teens into the water. The rafters managed to pull one of the teens out, but the other got stuck and could not be pulled out.

"The devices were not suitable for the river," said Lt. Rodney Rochon. "And out of the group of nine, there were two life jackets. That was all." A 90-minute search by river rescue crews ended when the victim's body was found entangled in debris under water west of Sultan. Divers had a difficult time trying to safely remove the teen from the river, but finally succeeded in recovering his body at approximately 4:46 p.m. "The hazards of this river are not all visible. And there are many," said Rochon. "It doesn't get any easier, especially when it's a young person, especially when it's preventable." The teen's identity has not been released.



July 19, 2010

EVERETT, WA -- The 17-year old boy who drowned last Friday in the Skykomish River while rafting with friends here in the Sky Valley , has been identified as Russelle Yap who would have entered his senior year at Cascade High School in Everett. Yap’s family has tentatively scheduled the funeral for Saturday and high school friends of Yap are putting together a memorial for him slated for Tuesday afternoon at Cascade High School. Over the weekend a large group of Yap’s friends and classmates held a benefit car wash in Everett with the proceeds going to Yap‘s family to help pay for funeral expenses.

Yap drowned on the Skykomish River just west of Sultan Friday while out rafting with friends. Rescue officials said the group of eight friends was out on the river in several different rafts when around 1 pm one of the rafts struck debris in the water and Yap - wearing just shorts and a T-shirt and no life vest - was thrown into the frigid water of the river. Friends tried to grab him, but strong river currents pinned the boy against a log under the water and he drowned. Rescue personnel finally recovered Yap’s body about 5 pm. No one else in the rafting party was injured.

Officials said none of the rafts the teens were using were river capable rafting devices but were more the swimming pool or calm lake type floating mattress devices and none of the teens were wearing a life vest. All rivers near mountains are deceptively treacherous this time of year because mountain snow run off keeps debris in the rivers and temperatures in the rivers are frigid even though surface water temperature may seem warm in places. And particularly on rivers like the Skykomish River, underwater currents are dangerous and the danger to rafters only becomes apparent once a person has gone into the river and ties to maneuver out of danger.