Accident Database

Report ID# 443

  • Impact/Trauma
  • Unknown
  • Head Injury / Concussion
  • Solo Paddling

Accident Description

Meatgrinder Rapid on Colorado ’s Crystal River is a short, very intense stretch of Class V whitewater. The upper half is quite technical, with a need to move to the right to avoid a rocky island. Below here the river is less demanding, but there are three big holes in rapid succession and a number of smaller ones which must be dealt with. The river was running 1200 cfs, a  high level. Henry Filip, 38, was an experienced, well regarded local paddler and skier. He was kayaking alone, but because his descent was being videoed he had two other boaters positioned with throw bags.  

Filip ran the top half of Meatgrinder Rapid without incident. When he peeled out into the lower section there was only one person downstream: the videographer. Filip flipped in a hole, rolled, then was knocked over by the next hole. He attempted a roll, but his efforts were disrupted as he dropped into more pourovers just downstream. He was still attempting to roll when he slammed into the final set of holes against a cliff on the river left bank. Below here he let go of his paddle and floated upside down, still in his boat.  

His friends lost track of him momentarily. They assumed he had bailed out and swum. After searching the bottom of the drop, they began searching the river downstream of the rapid by car. They saw Filip’s kayak floating near an island, and when they went to retrieve it they found Filip still inside. Then Filip and his boat got away from them, washing through The Narrows. Below here they made multiple attempts at rescue. A mile further downstream Filip fell out of his boat. His friends caught up, retrieved him, and began CPR. But 45 minutes had elapsed, and they were not successful.  

SOURCE: Gordon Banks, in the Jan-Feb, 1998 issue of Paddler; posts 


1. (Banks) Filip probably hit his head in the last set of holes, and the impact left him helpless.  

2. (Walbridge) Shore-based rescue has its limits because it takes a long time to move people downstream. There is usually no substitute for having a boat in the water.  


On June 28 Henry Filip, 38, was killed while running class V+ Meatgrinder Rapid on Colorado's Crystal River near Redstone, Colorado. Filip was apparently boating alone, although his descent was being videoed by others. The river was running 1200 cfs, an extremely high level. Both internet postings were extremely sketchy, and more information is needed.

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