Accident Database

Report ID# 4093

  • Caught in a Natural Hydraulic
  • PFD Not Worn or Present
  • Does not Apply
  • Inadequate Equipment
  • Inexperience

Accident Description

Tuber separate from her party and floated into a hydraulic in the middle of the river, known (unfortunately) to locals as the "Suck Hole." The hydraulic is relatively shallow and very sticky. It can be difficult to swim out either side due to a strong jet of current either side of the hole. Paddlers typically avoid playing here. The tuber did not have a life jacket and unknowingly dropped into the hydraulic.

Luckily a group of paddlers were surfing about 30 yards away. They immediately recognized the danger and ferried over. All were in short playboats. Two experienced boaters, a kayaker and open-boater, attempted to surf across the hydraulic and make contact with the victim. The victim panicked and was recirculated 10+ times. They could not make physical contact and had difficulty predicting when the victim would recirculate. As the hole is in the middle of the river, it was difficult to reach with a rope and only one throw rope was close by. Other paddlers in the area realized what was occurring and prepared to help once the victim left the hydraulic.

The victim lost consciousness and became limp. The kayaker paddled to the nearest eddie and began to call for help to live-bait the victim out. The OC1 paddler managed to time the victim's recirculation properly and rammed her out of the hydraulic. Victim was beginning to turn blue. The paddlers managed to get her to shore within 4 or 5 minutes and performed rescue breaths on her while the group paddled her over. she had no pulse. After 20 seconds of CPR on the bank, the victim regained a pulse and slowly came to. Once she regained consciousness, the scene was turned over to local rescue operators.

This rescue was a "right time, right place" rescue. Had the victim not been tubing on a busy weekend for the Rockport ledge, it could easily have been fatal. Nearly every paddler in the water was required for a successful recovery. The victim was large and not wearing a PFD. Search and rescue personnel could not have handled the situation without Good Samaritan paddlers recognizing the danger and acting decisively. It is always best to keep an eye on the Suck Hole and have a rope handy in the future.

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