Accident Database

Report ID# 3752

  • Swim into Strainer
  • Does not Apply
  • Other

Accident Description

From the Missoulian:

Floater drowns on Middle Fork Salmon in Papoose Creek fire area

July 27, 2013 8:45 pm

By Sherry Devlin SALMON, Idaho - Smoke was also pouring into the Bitterroot Valley late Saturday from the Papoose Creek fire, which has burned 9,168 acres west of Salmon, Idaho. That fire is moving through grass, brush and small stands of timber above the Middle Fork Salmon River. On Saturday, fire managers reported a death within the boundary of the blaze – although unrelated to the fire itself. Fire information officer Amy Baumer said a recreationist who was floating on the Middle Fork of the Salmon with an outfitter drowned on Friday. Firefighters helped respond to the tragedy. Fire officials have allowed floating and camping to continue within much of the fire area. Boat crews of firefighters continue to remove ground fuels at campsites between Big Creek and Goat Creek.

And an email thread from Idaho Whitewater

: sad news from the MF

Posted By: boicatr

Sun Jul 28, 2013 10:29 pm

Sounds like there was a death on the MF yesterday. Details are sketchy but the source is solid. Happened somewhere between Big Creek and Cradle, and was reported to be an outfitted trip. I've hesitated posting this until more solid info came out. I was really hoping we'd make it through this year without a whitewater fatality, as I think this is the first one. I know some folks on the river (with an outfitter) that would have been there about then, so please post or email me if anyone has more info.

thanks ted

Re: sad news from the MF

Posted By: aaronsety

Mon Jul 29, 2013 12:31 am

I hope that is not the case. I can not confirm this. What I will write below is what I saw and members of my group saw. We took off the MFS on the 28th around 2. We stopped in at the B for the fire update, fire was no problem for us, little smoke. We were warned about a tree below love bar spanning 2/3 of the river. We ate lunch at love bar below a outfitter at elk. They left first with many iks. We followed soon after.

The tree is a huge ponderosa pine with all the limbs still attached, leaving a channel on the rt maybe 15 feet wide. Easy to avoid, our opinion. Our first boat found the outfitters below the tree with 1 ik wrapped on the tree and that passenger (who can't f... swim!) standing on the tree. A second ik was hi siding against the tree with the passenger in it. She fell out and went under the tree with the boat. Our lead boat was watching this as they passed the tree and rowed back up to the tree belwo the swimmer. She was under for at least 20 seconds before she came up and got hands on our rope. She later said she was caught on something and could not get her head up sho she "just sort of gave up" and thank fully washed free.

I rowed down the channel in a small cat and was able to row back up to the log but chose not to risk a rescue since the woman on the log looked safe at that time. And I felt the guides would come up with a safer plan. I went to the left bank. There was confusion about how to act. After a few minutes one member of my group in a light spider rowed a guide back in to the tree where he was able to get the woman off the log, free the wrapped ik and remove a rope that was left from the previous day when someone else stuck a boat. All were safe and not injured.

I had full view of the log for at least 2 minutes before rowing past it. There is a huge eddy on the right and easy to scout. No one in my group considered this to be difficult to avoid. But we chose to pull our ik out before hand. At the scat machine we met another group who had lots of MFS experience and a couple unexperienced rowers. One of them missed the channel and it sounded like he hit the tree. Im not sure how, but the boat went down the side of the log and probably had to drag it over some rocks on the left bank to get around. This happened on the 27th around mid afternoon. When we rowed out we left camp at 930 or 10 and never saw another group. We were camped at lightning strike. This is a extreme strainer! Easy to avoid but do not go in there. I would rather swim the entire river than try to swim that log. The log is not stable. If a big boat wrapped here will likely move the log. I hope this helps. Be safe.

Sincerely Aaron

Re: [idahowhitewater] sad news from the MF

Posted By: fish83401 fish8340 Mon Jul 29, 2013 5:46 am

Dan, Justin and me went up friday to run a shredder and a micro cat at Cramer and then hike up to Butts Creek Lookout. There were 5 Fish and Game trucks and an asortment of Gov't trucks at the Stoddard Trail Head. The new bridge is complete but closed due to a fire mid way up Papoose Creek. While putting on we got in the middle of a group comming off. They seemed to be a collection of govt. folks and rescue sorts who had been flown in to rescue/recover.

They said there was a tree across the river and a kayacker had drown that morning (26 July) they had little else to say.I talked to a bunch of guides that had come out ahead of the fatality and they discribed just what the pictures posted here showed. Reasonably large right side miss but most flow going into the strainer.

All said it was just below Mist or Vail falls and easy to see. My experiance is things are easy to see if you see it but not if you are looking at the mist of the fall or such. The corn creek ranger had a small note that confirmed the death of a female kayaker but nothing else. I ask her if this info would be available at the put in at the MF and she said she assumes so but had no way to contact them. My thought and prayers go out to the family and friends

SALMON, Idaho (AP) — A Coeur d'Alene pediatrician has drowned during a guided rafting trip on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River. Lemhi County Sheriff Lynn Bowerman says 57-year-old Maj StormoGipson died on July 26. Bowerman says the guides discussed navigating around a tree in the water, but StormoGipson's kayak hit the tree. She was thrown into the water and somehow became hung up in branches under the water.Bowerman says she was under water for 8 to 10 minutes. Efforts to resuscitate her were unsuccessful.


Doctor drowns during Salmon River rafting trip



Posted on July 30, 2013 at 12:35 PM




SALMON, Idaho -- A Coeur d'Alene pediatrician has drowned during a guided rafting trip on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River.

Lemhi County Sheriff Lynn Bowerman says 57-year-old Maj StormoGipson drowned on July 26 after she was thrown from her kayak and became tangled underwater.

Bowerman says the guides discussed navigating around a downed tree in the water, but StormoGipson's kayak hit the tree. She was thrown into the water and somehow became hung up in branches under the water.

"The guides went through it first in their rafts, and the inflatables came next, and everyone went around it but her," Bowerman said.

Bowerman says StormoGipson was reportedly underwater for at least 10 minutes. Once rescued, he says members of the rafting party unsuccessfully performed CPR on her for about 30 minutes after the accident.

The woman's clothing and life vest may have held her under, according to Bowerman.

Members of the rafting party and several guides floated StormoGipson's body out of the wilderness.

She was reportedly on the trip with her husband, several family members, and friends.

Bowerman says the woman was on day 5 of a 6-day float with the Couer d'Alene-based River Odyssey West company. She was one of 23 clients and 7 guides on the trip. 


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