Accident Database

Report ID# 384

  • Flush Drowning
  • Does not Apply
  • Hypothermia
  • Cold Water
  • High Water
  • One Boat Trip

Accident Description


Numbers Section of the Arkansas near Salida, CO: June 17, 1995

Gradient 72 ft/mi; Volume 4.5'/2800 cfs; Classification IV+

DESCRIPTION: The numbers section of the Arkansas, Colorado's classic Class IV run, was running high at 2800 cfs on June 17th. Mose Pacheco, 45, a private rafter with some formal training, was paddling a small 11.5' raft with three other men. They flipped in a hole located below the endo rock just above Rapid #5. Despite the icy water Pacheco was wearing no wetsuit.

One man self-rescued above the drop; two others held on to the raft and were washed through Rapid #5. The victim was floating face down and unresponsive. Kayakers witnessing the accident chased him downstream along a riverside road in a pickup truck. Ten minutes later they pulled him to shore below Drop #5. One of the rescuers was a doctor; he began CPR, but could not revive him.

SOURCE: Rocky Mountain News; CWWA Safety Chair Roger W. Lynn

ANALYSIS: The lack of a wetsuit or a second boat for safety backup, combined with marginal river skills and a high river level, were responsible for this tragedy. The victim should have chosen less challenging water, like the "Frog Rock" section downstream, or located a second boat and some wetsuits.

Join AW and support river stewardship nationwide!