Accident Database

Report ID# 3908

Help
  • Health Problem
  • Near Drowning
  • Cold Water

Accident Description

Unconscious Kayaker Rescued From Snake River Just before noon on Thursday, September 4th, rangers and park paramedics responded to a boat accident with an unresponsive kayaker on the Snake River, about three-quarters of a mile downstream from the Pacific Creek landing. Gerald Skinner, 80, of Brentwood, Tennessee, was kayaking with his son near the Snake's confluence with the Buffalo Fork River when he apparently overturned his boat and lost consciousness.

Skinner's son made a 911 call for help, and that emergency call was routed to the Teton Interagency Dispatch Center at 11:50 a.m. Park rangers quickly responded to the scene by foot and by boat. Within a couple of minutes of the accident, a private fishing party of two EMT/firefighters from Colorado happened to float by and they stopped to assist. The two EMTs began providing emergency medical care to Skinner. They also delivered updates to the Teton Interagency Dispatch Center while rangers were en-route. The first park ranger arrived on scene at 12:10 p.m., after traveling by vehicle from the Buffalo Fork Ranger Station and then bushwhacking on foot to the river bank location. A second park ranger and two park paramedics also launched from Pacific Creek landing via boat and they arrived at 12:12 p.m.

Rangers transferred Skinner-who was breathing, but still unresponsive-to a sandbar in the middle of the river, where a Teton Interagency Fire contract helicopter was able to land. The helicopter made a quick flight with Skinner and the two park paramedics aboard from the river island to a nearby ballfield at the Moran School. Upon landing, Skinner was transferred into a waiting park ambulance. Emergency care continued in the ambulance until Classic Air Ambulance, a life flight service out of Riverton, was able to arrive and provide transport to the Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls. An investigation into what caused the boating accident is still underway. Both Skinners were wearing life vests at the time of the incident. [Jackie Skaggs, Public Affairs Officer]

Pastor says Skinner's recovery 'a miracle'

By: JONATHAN ROMEO

Published: September 10, 2014

A Brentwood man critically injured in a kayaking accident in Grand Teton National Park last week is "recovering well" in an Idaho hospital, his longtime friend and pastor said. Gerald Skinner, 80, was rushed to the hospital by park rangers after his kayak overturned on the Snake River just before noon on Thursday, Sept. 4. Pastor Kevin Ulmet, of the Nashville First Church of the Nazarene, said he spoke with Skinner's daughter on Tuesday, who relayed the good news. "I understand he walked 200 steps today [Tuesday] -- that's pretty amazing for a man that just had this happen -- and he's off the ventilators," Ulmet said. "They are just thrilled with his progress.

Everyone is - the doctors, his family, everyone. We are seeing a miracle take place in many ways. For all practical purposes Dr. Skinner should not be with us, but it appears he's going to make it and we're grateful." Skinner was on a family vacation visiting his son, Jeff, in Wyoming, where the two regularly go on outdoor excursions. It's a trip the Skinners make every year, Ulmet said. "I know it isn't normal for a 80-plus-year-old guy to be kayaking, but it is for him," Ulmet said of Skinner. "It was a freak accident where we think he encountered a low hanging branch or some other obstacle that knocked him out of his kayak. He was knocked unconscious and was under the water face down for a lengthy time without breathing."

Despite the fact the pair were in an isolated area, his son was able to get through to a 911 Teton Interagency dispatcher. While waiting for emergency personnel to arrive, another stroke of good luck occurred: two EMT firefighters from Colorado - on a private fishing party - happened upon the scene and provided emergency medical care to an unconscious Skinner. "Had they not been in the park I do not know if Gerald would be with us. [Park rangers] airlifted him out of the park, and he was touch-and-go for I'd say easily 36 hours, if not more." Skinner was eventually flown to Idaho Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls where he is currently hospitalized. Although doctors initially said it would take up to a month of rehab, Ulmet said he expects that time frame to be shorter due to the progress he's made.

Skinner is not taking calls, but has felt the outpour of support from friends back home through emails, social media and relayed messages through his immediate family. Skinner is well known in the community, most notably for his contributions to Trevecca Nazarene University. In the 1960s, Skinner took the business school, then with only a handful of enrolled students, and grew the program to over 500 students per semester. He also serves on the Board of Trustees for Trevecca Nazarene University; the Theological Seminary based in Kansas City; and the direct advisory board of the Nazarene's Nashville district. In 2012, the university renamed the business education program the Gerald Skinner School of Business and Technology.

"I was thinking last week just how many students were impacted by Dr. Skinner," Dean James Hiatt said. "He was my professor and mentor, and I'm personally indebted to him. He is a real leader." Hiatt said the Trevecca community has followed the situation closely and sent prayer requests to the Skinner family. "He's received hundreds and hundreds of emails and phone messages, from the college and community everywhere," Ulmet said. "He's receiving them and deeply appreciative of all the love and prayers extended to him. "I know him well enough to know that when he is capable of doing so he will live the reaming years of his life with great gratitude for every hour. He'll know from a human standpoint he's living a gift. He'll make the most of it. He hasn't slowed down yet and I doubt he will." Jonathan Romeo

nconscious Kayaker Rescued from Snake River

 

Subscribe RSS Icon | What is RSS
Date: September 5, 2014 
Contact: Public Affairs Office, 307.739.3393 

 

 

Just before noon on Thursday, September 4, Grand Teton National Park rangers and park paramedics responded to a boat accident with an unresponsive kayaker on the Snake River, about 3/4 of a mile downstream of the Pacific Creek landing. Gerald Skinner, 80, of Brentwood, Tennessee was kayaking with his son near the confluence of the Buffalo Fork River when he apparently overturned his boat and lost consciousness.

Skinner's son made a 911 call for help, and that emergency call was routed to the Teton Interagency Dispatch Center at 11:50 a.m.Park rangers quickly responded to the scene by foot and by boat.

Within a couple of minutes of the boating accident, a private fishing party of two EMT firefighters from Colorado happened to float by and they stopped to assist. The two EMTs began to provide emergency medical care to Skinner. They also delivered updates to the Teton Interagency dispatcher while rangers were en-route.

The first park ranger arrived on scene at 12:10 p.m., after traveling by vehicle from the Buffalo Fork Ranger Station and then bushwhacking on foot to the river bank location. An additional park ranger and two park paramedics also launched from Pacific Creek landing via boat and they arrived at 12:12 p.m.

Rangers transferred Skinner—who was breathing, but still unresponsive—to a sandbar in the middle of the river where a Teton Interagency contract helicopter was able to land. The helicopter made a quick flight with Skinner and the two park paramedics aboard from the river island to a nearby ball field at the Moran School. Upon landing, Skinner was transferred into a waiting park ambulance. Emergency care continued in the ambulance until Classic Air Ambulance, a life-flight service out of Riverton, was able to arrive and provide transport to the Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls.

An investigation into what caused the boating accident is still underway. Both Skinners were wearing life vests at the time of the incident.

This marks the second serious boating accident on the Snake River this year.

 

Join AW and support river stewardship nationwide!