Accident Database

Report ID# 3796

  • Flush Drowning
  • Does not Apply
  • Cold Water

Accident Description

Grand Canyon News Release

Release date: Immediate

Contact(s): Kirby-Lynn Shedlowski Phone number: 928-638-7958

Date: September 27, 2013

Fatality on Colorado River within Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon, Ariz. – On Wednesday, September 25 at approximately 1:00 p.m., the Grand Canyon Regional Communications Center received a call with a report of a deceased 67 year old female on the Colorado River within Grand Canyon National Park at River Mile 209. An investigation into the incident is being conducted by the National Park Service in coordination with the Mohave County Medical Examiner and an autopsy is being performed to determine the cause of death. Pending family notifications the identity of the victim is being withheld, once notifications are made the deceased’s identity will be released. No further information is available at this time. 

From Mountainbuzz:

I am grateful to Janet, Mary’s daughter, for writing up the following account of the passing of Mary Simpson. Mary’s husband Robert did some heroic work here and is a very lucky man to have been able to spend 50 years with Mary. While Mary may have known she was not in the best of shape and might not make the trip, the rest of her crew have to carry on after her loss. My sympathies to Mary’s family, friends and especially to her fellow river runners, yours, tom

 I hope that this post will show on my dad's wall and my mom's as well as my own. I want to update folks on how my dad is doing. I think that most of our near and dear know that my mom died of hypothermia when their boat flipped in the Grand Canyon on the next to last day of their trip. Her emphysema had been problematic but not disabling when they had planned this trip last May. By August she had suffered a very significant decline in function. There was no doubt that she was taking a real risk by going, but she had planned and she had packed and she would not be dissuaded from going on what she knew would be her last river trip.

My brother was their rower on the trip. They had anticipated that when they got off the mountain and onto the river that the lower elevation would give my mother more energy as it always had before but this time she wasn't able to do any of the day hikes. When the boat flipped, all three of them grabbed ropes on the boat but my mom did not have the strength to pull herself up. My father was trying to help her but after about fifteen minutes in the water her eyes rolled up and she let go. My father grabbed her and as they both had life vests he was able to keep her head out of the water but he could not get them to shore. She was gone but he could not let her go.

Kenny got to shore and frantically tried to get downstream where he hoped my father was still alive. He knew my mom was gone. Where the shore line cut in he did not go around but jumped into the current, trying to catch the eddies to get to the other side, which is insanely dangerous. A boat from another trip picked him up and took him downstream where he found my father and mother, finally ashore. His quote was "I have never been so relieved in my life to see that gray head." I came so profoundly close to losing them all that I cannot help but be extremely grateful to have Kenny and my dad.

So to my dad. The first few days were really rough, but we are so lucky that we all live here in Flagstaff; three kids, six grandkids, all here. We have pulled in tight.  . . . .My mom and dad would have had their fiftieth wedding anniversary October 5th.

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