Accident Database

Report ID# 376

  • Swim into Strainer
  • Does not Apply
  • High Water
  • One Boat Trip

Accident Description


"Chevron Run" near El Portal, CA: May 30, 1995

Gradient 100 fpm; Volume 8,000 cfs; Classification IV-V

DESCRIPTION: The Merced River outside Yosemite National Park is a popular class IV run. On May 30th it was running at 8,000 cfs, a very high level. Three off-duty guides put in at the Chevron station on route 140 at

 6 pm

. Below here the river drops at 100 feet per mile and is considered Class V. The raft, a combination paddle and oar rig, flipped. Two of the guides made it safely ashore; a third was last seen swimming vigorously to safety. His body was found the next day; his life vest had snagged in streamside willows and brush a few hundred yards above the route 140 bridge.

SOURCE: Chris Donohue posting to Rec.Boats.Paddle; K-Flow News

ANALYSIS: The main cause of this death was high water, which made self-rescue extremely difficult and put water flowing through streamside willow thickets. The guides avoided a lower put-in which bypassed the most intense water, but they clearly knew what they were getting into. A second boat might have assisted in rescue, but given the intensity of the water are no guarantees.

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