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Accident Description


: The Washington to Edwards section of California’s South Fork of the Yuba is a popular Class III-IV run. On May 5, 1996, it was running at 1200 cfs, a moderate flow. On that day Art Capacite, 38, was paddling this section with two companions. The three men portaged a falls 10.5 miles below Washington and were then confronted with a series of Class IV rapids. The first required a strong left-to-right move to avoid a bad keeper hole with blocked ends.  One boaters described it as “seemingly harmless, but unforgiving.” The first two boaters eddied left and watched Capecite make his run.

Capacite missed the move. He dropped into a very bad hole on river left. He bailed out almost immediately, then recirculated for some time. The group attempted to reach him with throw ropes but despite accurate throws he apparently could not see the lines. After being held under water for a long period he was expelled unconscious and face down. One paddler attempted a swimming rescue but could not catch up to Capecite and returned to shore. The second person attempted to catch the victim by boat but flipped and swam the next drop. It took 15 to 20 minutes for the pair could catch up with Capacite and begin CPR. One man boated out and called for help. The second man left after four hours of solo CPR and arrived at the take-out in the dark. The body was recovered by helicopter the next day.

SOURCE: Valjean Licon and Dan Read, posting to rec.boats.paddle

ANALYSIS: (Walbridge) This accident illustrates the terrible cost of missing a “must make” move, no matter how easy it may seem.

 

On May 5th Art Capacite was paddling the South Fork of the Yuba from Washington to Edwards with two companions. The river was running at 1200 cfs, a moderate flow. Scott Amundon, in an Rec.boats.paddle posting, stated that the three portaged a falls about ten miles below Washington and were then confronted with a series of class IV rapids. The first required a strong left-t-right move to avoid a bad keeper hole with blocked ends. This accident illustrates the terrible cost of missing such a move.

The first two boaters ran the rapid without incident, but Capacite missed the move. He dropped into the hole and recirculated for some time. The group attempted to reach him with throw ropes but despite accurate throws, he did not grab hold. After being held under water for a long period he was expelled unconscious and face down. One paddler attempted a swimming rescue but could not catch up and returned to shore. The second attempted to catch the victim by boat but flipped and swam in the next drop. It took 15-20 minutes before the pair could catch up with Capacite and begin CPR. One man boated out and called for help; the second left after performing four hours of solo CPR and arrived at the take-out in the dark. The body was recovered by helicopter the next day.