Accident Database

Report ID# 44

  • Swim into Strainer
  • Does not Apply
  • Other

Accident Description

The Elaho River in British Columbia is a Class III-IV run with no special problems except at high water.  On July 1, 1987 a heat wave in the Coast Mountains had brought the river up to near-flood levels.  This made  the Devil's Elbow, a sharp 90 degree bend with a strainer on the outside of the turn, extremely treacherous.

A three boat  commercial rafting party was on the river that day. The guests were equipped with life vests and wetsuits. As they came into the Devil's Elbow a 63 year-old guest collapsed. The other guests in the raft spooked, and without their help the guide could not control the raft. Thee boat ran up on the strainer and flipped, spilling people into the river. A second raft, distracted by this eeny, also ran up on the strainer and flipped. The final toll was five dead.Although this trip took appropriate precautions, given the high water and the treacherous nature of the Devil's Elbow it may have been more than a commercial guest could be expected to handle. Access below this drop was excellent, and in retrospect this would have been a better put-in.

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