Date
Victim
Victim Age
River
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Location
Gage
Water Level
Difficulty
Cause
Cause Code(s)
Injury Type(s)
Factors Code(s)
Experienced/Inexperienced
Private/Commercial
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Accident Description


Robert Walmer, 32, was killed in Class V Pine Creek Rapid on the Arkansas near Buena Vista, CO. This is a steep, continuous rapid with lots of action and few eddies. The water level was 2.2 feet (850 cfs) at the Numbers, a moderate level. Walmer was in his third season of kayaking and had run the rapid twice in the previous few weeks. He was an avid mountain biker, ski racer, and in great physical shape.  

Walmer was boating in the early evening of May 13, 1997 with two friends. The group scouted the rapid before running it. Walmer got in trouble at the end of the "S-Turn", hitting the "Terminator" hole and bailing out. This hole is particularly sticky and violent at this level. Initially he had hold of his boat, but lost his grip and recirculated in one of the three big holes (the Three Sisters) further downstream. He first tried to swim for shore, but eventually just floated. His partners chased him down and got him to shore quickly, no small feat in the solid Class IV rapids downstream One man began CPR while the other ran to the road and flagged a car. EMS arrived, and Walmer was transported to the hospital where he was pronounced dea.

SOURCE: Roger Lynn, CWWA Safety Chair; Rocky Mountain News; Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area press release.  

ANALYSIS: ( Lynn ) This is the second fatal accident on Pine Creek in two years. This accident shows that Pine Creek is a rapid that can hurt you or kill you, even if you take precautions. In the past few years it has seen more traffic, much of it from boaters with two years experience or less! I’ve known several strong boaters who had lots of river time who have been injured or nearly killed here.

While it appears that Walmer and his group did everything right, it was apparently the highest level he had attempted. Pine Creek gets more difficult at over 2.0 feet, and the hole at the bottom of the S-Turn becomes a keeper. The three holes below here are big and violent, and the fast water below makes rescues difficult. If you make a mistake here, you will not recover quickly. 

 

On May 13, 1997 Robert Walmer of Salida, Colorado was killed in Class V Pine Creek Rapid on the Arkansas near Buena Vista, Colorado. Roger Lynn, the CWWA Safety Chair, reported that the water level was 2.2 feet at the Numbers, a moderate level .Walmer, 32, was in his third season of boating and had run the rapid twice before that Spring. He was an excellent athlete; an expert skier, and in great physical shape.

The group scouted the rapid before running it. Walmer got in trouble at the end of the "S-Turn", hitting the "Terminator" hole and bailing out. Initially he had hold of his boat, but he lost his grip and recirculated in one of the three big holes further downstream.. He tried to swim for shore, but eventually became non-responsive. His partners chased him down and got him to shore quickly, no small feat in the tricky rapids that lie downstream One man began CPR while the other ran for help. EMS arrived, and Walmer was transported to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.