On July 6, 1996 a family took a 12-foot paddle raft through Rest Stop Rapid on the Clark Fork River above Alberton Gorge in Montana. At high water this roadside drop has a bank-to-bank reversal of massive proportions. The raft carried six people: a mother, her brother, her boyfriend, and her children aged two, three, and five. The two-year-old was wearing an adult life vest. When they hit the reversal the raft did not flip, but everyone was thrown from the boat. The mother swam to one side of the river with one child; another adult made it to the opposite shore with a second youngster. Neither the 2-year-old or the life vest have been recovered, and rescuers speculate that the unfortunate youngster fell out of the PFD.
SOURCE: Doug Purl, posting to rec.boats.paddle; The Missoulan, Missoula, MT
In Montana, a raft was taken through Rest Stop Rapid on the Clark Fork on July 6. Doug Purl, posting to rec.boats.paddle, reports that at high water this roadside drop has a bank-to-bank reversal of massive proportions. The group included a two-year old child who was wearing an adult life vest. Neither the child nor the life vest have been recovered, and rescuers speculate that the unfortunate youngster fell out of the PFD.
ANALYSIS: Whitewater rafting in difficult rapids is not suitable for very young children who cannot fend for themselves in dangerous situations. Small children should always wear properly-sized PFD’s when they are on the water but that will not protect them from death in big rapids. Putting a toddler in an adult PFD, let alone taking a young family into big rapids, is so absurd it suggests the group was expecting a mellow float and had no idea that they would encounter serious whitewater.