Accident Database

Report ID# 3730

  • Equipment Trap
  • Does not Apply
  • Failed Rescue

Accident Description

The wife of one of them posted this on FB:

"Sometimes in life even when you try your absolute best and give it everything you've got, things still don't turn out for the best. This was the very sad case today on the Yough river as my husband and several of my kayaking friends desperately tried to rescue a young man from drowning. Thank goodness they had all taken water rescue courses and could put forth such valiant effort despite the unfortunate outcome. You are all still heroes in my book for it's better to do something than nothing at all. I'm sure that young man's friends and family were grateful to at least see so many people trying to help. God bless all of you and prayers to the young man and his family.

From what they know, the young man fell out of the raft, he caught a throw rope, but when he let go it wrapped around his leg. Everyone thought it was a foot entrapment, but the water level was so high and strong they couldn't tell what was really happening. Ron, Mark, Chris, Larry, Andrew, Shawn, Janice, and several others tried so hard using zip lines, harnessed people over to him, everything they could think of."


Matt Bernstein Heard from my dad:

Rafter had rope thrown to them, didn't hold on. Rope wrapped around leg and also got stuck in rocks. Acted like a foot entrapment. Happened right above swimmers. PFD pulled off during the rescue, body sank. Walter asked my dad's group to keep eyes open, as they had 14 people. Last I heard, hadn't been recovered.

Missing rafter sought in western Pa. river

Roberto M. Esquivel | Herald-Standard

Posted: Sunday, July 7, 2013 9:46 am

Associated Press

Rescue crews have been searching for a man who disappeared while rafting on a western Pennsylvania river. Officials in Fayette County say the 22-year-old man went missing shortly after noon Saturday while whitewater rafting on the Youghiogheny River near Dimple Rock.

Jim Greenbaum, river operations manager for White Water Adventurers, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that he was told that the man's raft flipped at Dimple Rock.

Greenbaum said the victim was swept about 200 yards downstream and disappeared near an area known as "Swimmer's Rapid."

Dimple Rock, a boulder in the whitewater of the lower Yough, and Swimmers Rapid have been the site of at least 10 deaths over the last three decades.

Body of missing rafter recovered in Youghiogheny River

By Tribune-Review, Pittsburgh, PA
Published: Tuesday, July 9, 2013

A river tour guide spotted a body floating in the Youghiogheny River on Monday evening, springing rescuers into action to recover it, a park ranger said.

The body of Robert Vega, 22, of Lancaster was pulled out of the river at Ohiopyle State Park in Fayette County after 7 p.m. Rescuers had been searching for him since he went missing on Saturday. “It was just a tragic accident,” Jim Juran, park ranger said.

Vega was on a commercial whitewater rafting trip when his raft flipped over Saturday afternoon below the falls. His personal flotation device slipped off, and he was last seen with his foot trapped on the river's bottom at Swimmers Rapids, Juran said.

Helping in the recovery effort were members of the park staff, state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the Fayette County Coroner's Office, Ohiopyle-Stewart Volunteer Fire Company and river tour guides.

Read more: 

Body was found below Bottle of Wine, river left.

AW Journal Nov Dec 2013

Another commercial rafting guest died
after his foot caught on an abandoned
throw rope on Pennsylvania’s Lower
Youghiogheny River. Robert Vega, 22, was
in a raft that flipped at the top of Class IV
Dimple Rapid on July 6th. Higher-than-usual
water carried him into Swimmer’s Rapid
where he was snagged just to the right of
the play hole. Balancing on his free leg he
struggled to keep his head above water.
Several nearby private boaters who tried
valiantly to rescue him filed brief reports.
After several false starts they lowered a
man in a rescue vest from a rock directly
upstream. As the rescuer cut the rope that
trapped Mr. Vega, his life vest washed off
and he sank out of sight. Two days later his
body was found a mile downstream below
Bottle of Wine Rapid.

Abandoned throw ropes create a deadly
trap that’s not easy to spot. Although no
one is sure where the fatal rope came from
the risks it posed were clear. There have
been two similar non-fatal accidents here
in the last decade. One Lower Yough river
manager tells his guides that if they let go
of a throw rope they should jump in after it
and coil it up as they float downstream. If a
rope becomes stuck, they must recover it.
Private paddlers should consider adopting
the same level of responsibility.



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