DESCRIPTION: On Saturday, March 18, 1995 a canoe loaded with a man, 24, a teenager, 17, and two children aged 4 and 7 began a trip down the lower San Joaquin River near Friant, California in a canoe. All were wearing life preservers. This section is normally class I at summer levels of 500 cfs; a local livery will not rent boats at over 700 cfs. That day the river was rolling by at 3,000 cfs.
The canoe hit and wrapped on the Route 41 bridge abutment, pinning the seven year old girl under two feet of water. The man was able to reach shore and seek help. Rescuers closed Highway 41 for two hours; a rescue team rappelled down to the boat and retrieved the girl. CPR was begun, she was then taken to a hospital where she died. The other two children washed downstream to an island where they were later picked up by a State Police helicopter.
SOURCES: Richard Penny and the San Francisco Bee
ANALYSIS: Although this run was normally appropriate for novices, the high water made it inappropriate for inexperienced canoeists. To underscore this point, a few weeks later two kayakers were rescued after clinging to separate trees in the middle of the river for over an hour, submerged from the waist down. They had been paddling Kiwi-type boats.