Accident Database

Report ID# 415

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  • Flush Drowning
  • Head Injury / Concussion
  • Poor Group / Scene Management

Accident Description

On May 28, 1996 there was a fatality on the Golden Gate Run section of the South Fork of the American River in California. This very difficult Class V+ run is just upstream of the popular Chili Bar Section. It was named by a kayaker in the 60’s who thought that trying it would be a novel substitute for jumping off San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge. Luka Sribar, 30, was an elite Slovenian kayaker on an extended paddling tour of the The river was running at 1250 cfs, which is a moderate level according to Stanley and Holbeck’s guide.

In Drainpipe Rapid Roc’s brother Luka, who holds a Ph.D. in physics, was surfed by an aggressive stopper. He finally broke free to finish the run and set safety. Roc was also surfed, but could not escape. He bailed out and was swept downstream. His companions chased him, and caught up 30 minutes later, over a mile downstream. He was unconscious, and there was evidence of a severe head injury. After attempting CPR, the group paddled out and notified authorities. His body was recovered that evening by a search and rescue helicopter.

SOURCE: Auburn, CA Journal; El Dorado County Mountain Democrat; Austin Smith, posting to rec.boats.paddle; Charles Foster, via email

ANALYSIS: (Walbridge) Loca Sribar was one of the strongest river runners in the world. This accident really brings home the unavoidable dangers of Class V+ boating.

 

On May 28th there was a fatality on the class IV-V Slab Creek section of the South Fork of the American River in California. Luca Sribar, a very experienced Slovenian kayaker, was on an extended paddling tour of the U.S. This section of river, just upstream of the popular Chili Bar Section, was running at a moderate 900 cfs. In Drainpipe, the first paddler was surfed by an aggressive stopper but broke free to finish the run and set safety. Luka was also surfed and could not escape. He bailed out and was swept downstream. His companions chased him down and found him unconscious one mile downstream. There was efidence of severe head injury. After attempting CPR, the group paddled out and notified authorities. His body was recovered that evening by a search and rescue helicopter.

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