Accident Database

Report ID# 3537

  • Swim into Rock or Sieve
  • Does not Apply
  • Other

Accident Description

Very very sad indeed. Their team of 5 top-notch Italian boaters and our team hiked in at the same time reaching the put in together. Three of them (including the kayaker in the accident) had done the stretch two years ago. In order to space things out a bit, our team hung out while they geared up & put on, getting downstream.

An hour later, we put on and passed them at Willies Drop. Our team made short work of the portage and made it down to the camp slides when we saw the unmanned kayak floating by. We recovered it and waited to get visual with the Italian team to let them know we had the mangled boat and some of his gear. After twenty minutes, two of them appeared across the river and gave the hand-signal that the swimmer had died.

I then pressed the 911 Spot and we consoled the team. While waiting for the chopper, we found out: The kayaker was in his boat below the portage collecting boats and paddles that where being "throw-n-go" off the cliff. He had collected the majority of the gear and people when one of the last boats to be thrown filled up with water. He then chased it into the very next rapid (directly below the portage) and flushed into the right side where he then swam and sunk into the sieve on river right (mid-rapid). His body never flushed that day and will presumably be in that exact spot until the water levels lower. For all teams going in there, say a prayer as you pass over it and please notify the proper authorities if anything presents itself. Condolences for his loved ones and the team of brothers he was with.

Missing Dinkey Creek kayaker likely drowned

Wednesday, Jul. 13, 2011 T

he Fresno Bee A kayaker who went missing Tuesday night in Dinkey Creek has not been found and is presumed drowned, a Fresno County sheriff's spokesman said Wednesday. The man, described as in his 30s, was with a group of kayakers in the creek in eastern Fresno County when he was reported missing shortly before 7:30 p.m., deputy Chris Curtice said. The sheriff's search and rescue team and Eagle One helicopter searched until dark Tuesday. They resumed the search Wednesday morning but did not find any signs of the kayaker, Curtice said. High, swift water in the area has forced the search to be scaled back, he said.

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Drowned kayaker had world-class experience
Posted at 10:27 PM on Thursday, Jul. 21, 2011 By Marek Warszawski / The Fresno Bee

Kayaker rescued on upper Kings River during search for another man
An expert kayaker drowned last week in a remote stretch of Dinkey Creek while trying to retrieve one of his companion's boats. Daniele Tira, a physical therapist from San Zeno, Italy, was 33 years old. Tira followed the empty boat into the next rapid and ended up getting flushed into a sieve, said Cody Howard, a kayaker and adventure sports filmmaker from Auburn who was with another group downstream from the accident."It's not a daredevil out there toying with his life," Howard said. "He's a world-class kayaker who happened to get into trouble that day."

Tira was among a party of five Italian kayakers who put in July 12 on Dinkey Creek, a tributary of the Kings River in eastern Fresno County. The run is rated Class V+ (extremely difficult) and characterized by long sections of waterfalls and slides interspersed with pools.

The 6.5-mile run from the Ross Creek Trail to where Dinkey Creek joins the North Fork of the Kings River at Balch Camp includes two mandatory portages. These are spots where kayakers must carry or lower their boats to avoid deadly obstacles such as sieves, narrow spaces where water flows between two obstructions.

Tira's party was portaging around a 40-foot-tall boulder sieve when the accident occurred. There is a pool directly below the obstacle, and kayakers sometimes find it easiest to do what's called a "jump portage." In other words, toss your boat from above and jump in after it.

Tira was in his kayak below the portage collecting boats and paddles flung by his companions. One of the loose boats filled with water, and Tira was unable to secure it before he went into the next rapid and vanished into a sieve, said Howard, whose group was preparing to camp when they noted a mangled kayak and gear floating toward them that belonged to Tira's group.

The Fresno County sheriff's search and rescue unit looked for two days on foot and helicopter for any sign of Tira before he was presumed drowned. Howard said Tira's group was at Dinkey Creek on Thursday and that Tira's body likely remains trapped there. It might not be recovered until later this summer when flow levels diminish. Tira was making his second visit to California. He reportedly ran the same stretch of Dinkey Creek in 2009.

Fresno kayaker Paul Martzen helped make the first descent of that stretch of Dinkey Creek in 1989. It went unrepeated for 12 years, but recent advances in boat design have opened up larger and more dangerous rapids and waterfalls. "Quite a few groups go in there every year now," Martzen said. "It's become popular with top boaters. People have figured out the lines. Years ago, it had more of a reputation."

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