Date
Victim
Victim Age
River
Section
Location
Gage
Water Level
Difficulty
Cause
Cause Code(s)
Injury Type(s)
Factors Code(s)
Experienced/Inexperienced
Private/Commercial
Boat Type
Group Info
Other Victim Names
Status

Accident Description


On May 18, 1996 a group of private rafters was attempting Staircase Rapids in Brown's Canyon on Colorado's Arkansas River. The river was running at 4,050 cfs, which is very high. The raft hit a large wave sideways, and the boat's captain, a 57-year-old woman, was swept from the boat. She was brought to shore by a kayaker, then lost consciousness. CPR was started, and she was taken to a hospital where she was pronounced dead.

SOURCE: Roger Lynn, CWWA Safety Chair; Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area press release

ANALYSIS: (Walbridge) Flush-drowning, the term used to describe accidents in which a paddler drowns while swimming a long distance in rapids in a PFD, is a recurring problem in river rafting accidents. It can effect parties of any skill level. When a raft flips, many people are thrown into the water. They often become separated, making recovery difficult. Some rafters, both commercial and private, travel in one-boat trips, so there is no one around to pick up swimmers. Unusually high water contributed to most of the incidents described above.

 

On May 18 a group of private rafters was attempting Staircase Rapids in Brown's Canyon on Colorado's Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area, the river was running high at 4,050 cfs. The raft hit a large wave sideways, and the boat's captain, a 57 year old woman, was swept from the boat. The woman lost consciousness as she was being brought to shore by a kayaker. CPR was started, and she was taken to a hospital where she was pronounced dead.