Accident Database

Report ID# 48216

  • Equipment Trap
  • Does not Apply
  • Cold Water
  • High Water

Accident Description

From Charles Albright:

I have been able to get the full, sad story and here it is.  Stephen Bauwens and Roger Peka put in at Floriston for a paddle to Verdi on the Truckee River.  When they were putting in Stephen’s spray skirt grab loop broke.  Still wishing to paddle they jerry rigged a carabiner repair that they thought would work.  They also decided to not wear gloves because of the grab loop issue.  
Stephen was a long time solid kayaker who was well known in the Reno paddling community along with his brother.  He was one of those quality people just like the rest of us out there enjoying rivers,  He made a comment to Roger as they started about how it was another great day on water. 
They had an uneventful day down to the first hard rapid called Dead Man’s Curve, a solid Class 4 drop especially at 4,000 cfs of 40 degree water.  Roger went first and Stephen followed and after making it to the bottom where two big flows merge with big eddy fences he flipped on the right fence and attempted several rolls.  Roger started back up towards him to help and gave Stephen a bow rescue.  When Stephen came up he blacked out and the carabiner had failed to open the skirt.  His knees where in a position to push out but had not been able to do so.  Stephen was swept into the next several rapids still in the boat and Roger was finally able to do a hand of god rescue and pop Stephen’s skirt but lost his paddle as they continued on into other rapids. Roger was able to get Stephen’s paddle during this time.
He was finally able to get Stephen into an eddy below Riverwide and the eddy above the Stateline Dam/ Steamboat Ditch Diversion Dam.  He immediately worked to do CPR and did so for an hours time hoping that other river runners might appear.  He then portaged the Stateline Dam and paddled to the north shore and hiked to the 80  Freeway and was able to make a call to 911. Response was to both sides of the river with the south side accessible from Quilici Ranch Road.  Primary response groups were Truckee Meadows Fire, Reno Fire, CHP, Washoe County Search and Rescue and Washoe County’s Hasty Team.  They used a ‘low line rescue' to get the body up to the dirt roads on the south side of the river above the Fleish Powerhouse.
Needless to say it has been a very dramatic and sad event for Stephen’s many family and friends here in the Reno area.  Our condolences go out to Stephen’s family and brother who also paddles and Stephen’s  girlfriend.  Special thanks got to Roger Peka who had a very hard time with this rescue and CPR.  A very somber end to what had been another great day on fun water doing what we all love.  
Roger’s take on this event is two fold.  Make sure you gear is in proper condition  for the days needs, who wants to leave when your already at the put in miles from home.  If the skirt had not failed this would have never happened.  Also when you are few in numbers for a run stay close.  If Roger had been able to be closer to Stephen than rescue and passing out would not have been so close to what happened.  Closer means less chance of losing a very good friend.  I have run that rapid many times and eddies are not easily available especially with the two currents being very strong at the bottom.
I have for several months now been carrying extra skirts, PFD’s, rescue ropes and paddling gear for this such incident or paddling with someone who does not have basic safety gear with them.  Another note is what you may think is enough rescue gear is in reality never enough.

On Apr 21, 2019, at 8:26 AM, Charles <> wrote:

Yesterday there was a  kayaker discovered who had drowned on the Truckee River on what is called the Farad Run.  it happened in the Stateline area and very little is known now.  I will pass on more when I find out what happened.  I have contacted several news and rescue groups and have yet to get any answers.  Another tragic loss to the paddling community.

I visited the Mogul Truckee Meadows Fire Station this morning.  I found out very little.  The kayaker ended up in the water and took a long swim.  He was above the Stateline Dam.  His partner got him to shore and started CPR and unfortunately it did not work.  He had a cell but could not get a signal.  He paddled across the river and hiked to the 80 Freeway and was able to call it in.  The rescuers were able to drive up the south side of the river to near where he was and evacuated him from the scene.  No names yet.

 I had a message from Greg Porter who I had met previously and was with Stephen when I saw them both the weekend before at Crystal Peak Park in Verdi for  a run.  Greg explained that they had a VERY HARD time putting on Stephen’s sprayskirt as it was a normal large cockpit and they were putting it on a XL opening.  He suggested that that was again the situation at Floriston for the fateful paddle and probably why the grab loop failed then.  He has spent most every day since with the family and the girlfriend and was hoping that eventually the folks that have the gear and boat would return them and he could see the skirt.  I am sure that you have seen similar situations as I have had to get help with many skirts especially older ones that have shrunk with time..

I went by the Truckee Meadows Fire Station this am.  They responded but it was not their normal crew who were fighting a fire north of town.  All they did was stand by.  Reno’s Wet Team and Washoe Counties Hasty Team responded.  I have again contacted both groups and no word yet.  It seems that the Hasty Team and the Sheriff both close for the weekend.  I left both emails and calls to their leaders. What I pieced together was that two paddlers were on the river above where it gets harder and somehow one was out of his boat and the other was able to get him to shore and start CPR that failed.  He had a phone but no signal so he left the  body that was on river right and paddled to the Freeway side and hiked up to get a signal and made the call.  Teams went to both side and a “low line”  was set up to get the body up from the river to a dirt road with limited access by the public.  I have paddled the river at least 100 times there and therein really  not much in the way of rapids where the event happened according to the firemen.  The hard rapids are much further downstream.  Hopefully there will be more tomorrow in the paper or on the TV News.  And again I hope to hear from the Sheriff or Reno FD.


































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