On June 12, 1998 a rafting guest died while running the Taos Box run of New Mexico’s Rio Grande, which was running low at under 1000 cfs. This was the first commercial fatality on this river in 30 years. The first raft ran “The Rock Garden” cleanly; the second raft broached on a partially submerged rock, partly blocking the main channel. The third raft, containing a 34-year-old female, hit the second raft and capsized. That impact dislodged the second boat. The victim fell out and was pulled into a nasty rock sieve called "the Northwest Passage". At the same time a fourth boat wrapped on an upstream rock. Unpinning the boats and collecting the swimmers took over an hour, during which time the woman’s husband reported her missing. An extensive search followed, first by guides, then by Taos Search and Rescue. On June 13th a tyrolean traverse was set above the sieve, and the area was probed with a long pole. Divers found the body on June 16th under 7 feet of water.
SOURCE: Steve Harris, Far Flung Adventures
ANALYSIS: (Walbridge) Collisions may occur when boats are following one another too closely. If one boat has trouble, the others should have enough space to stop before colliding. This is not easy to do in low water, when small obstacles may cause a raft to hang up unexpectedly and there may be little room to maneuver. In tight places may be advisable for each boat, starting with the first, to indicate when the passage is clear. The following boat waits for the signal, runs, and then signals the boat behind them.
On June 12th a rafting guest died on the Taos Box run of New Mexico's Rio Grande, which was running low at under 1000 cfs. This is the first commercial fatality on this section. The accident was reported as follows: Several boats piled up on a sieve called "the Northwest Passage". Two boats hit each other, partly blocking the main channel. The victim, a 34 year old female, was in the third raft, which broached against the other two and flipped. This impact released the first two boats, but the third was pinned. A forth boat became pinned on another rock. The victim was presumably pulled under the mess. Unpinning the boat and collecting swimmers took over an hour, during which time they determined someone was missing. An extensive search followed, first by guides, then by Taos Search and Rescue. Divers recovered the body on June 16 under 7' of water.
Subject: Two deaths on the Rio Grande, NM On Mon, 15 Jun 1998
rec.boats.paddle "Michiel R. Heynekamp" wrote: The past week was witness to two deaths on the Rio Grande. .......A commercial rafting accident on the lower Box (near pinball of the rock garden section) left one female passenger dead. Any more info is appreciated since future similar mistakes may be prevented. My condolences go out to the victims families.