Accident Database

Report ID# 383

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  • Equipment Trap
  • Flush Drowning
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Accident Description

SNAKE RIVER CLAIMS UTAH WOMAN

Cottonwood Creek Section near Afton, WY: June 18, 1995

DESCRIPTION: The Snake River in the vicinity of Grand Teton National Park is a very popular float trip. Mary McGavock was camping with a 75 person group from the Mormon church who rented rafts for the stretch between West Table Creek and Sheep Gulch. They were running an open class III rapid when they hit the only obstruction, a huge rock that upended and pinned their raft. Most of the occupants made it safely to shore or were recovered clinging the midstream rock. Ms. McGavock was initially caught in one of the ropes attached to the raft. Then, as other passengers tried to hold onto her, she was carried away by the current. Her life vest came off, and she disappeared beneath the surface. The PFD, still fully closed, was recovered later. The body had still not been recovered the next day.

SOURCES: Ron Watters; Mark White; Idaho State Journal  

ANALYSIS: Deputy James Kadrmas of Lincoln County, Wyoming, is quoted in the Idaho State Journal as saying that the life vest which came off the victim was too large for her. Small women often have difficulty getting a good fit from adult PFD's. He further stated that the rental raft, which was carrying 11 people, was overloaded. Both observations, if true, suggest that the outfitters may need to better inform and supervise their clients during the pre-trip period.

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