Accident Database

Report ID# 50207

  • Caught in a Natural Hydraulic
  • Does not Apply
  • Other

Accident Description

One dead in rafting accident on South Fork of the Payette River

The Boise County Sheriff's Office said three people in a raft went into the water. One of them died.


July 11, 2019

BOISE COUNTY, Idaho — One person is dead after a raft trip turned tragic on the South Fork of the Payette River Thursday afternoon.

Sergeant David Anthony with the Boise County Sheriff's Office said that someone called 911 at about 2:30 p.m. to report that rafters had gone into the river at Big Falls Rapid -- about ten miles east of Garden Valley on a section known for Class III and Class IV rapids.

He said a total of three rafts were floating together as a group when they got to Big Falls Rapid, and that two of the rafts were able to go around it, while a third raft, with three people on board, went through the rapid.

All three people on that raft were thrown into the water. Anthony said that a 27-year-old man died, and that deputies have recovered his body. His name has not been released. The other two people who were thrown from the raft were able to get out of the water, and did not suffer major injuries.

According to Anthony, people typically choose to go around Big Falls Rapid because it's potentially dangerous. “It makes a 90-degree angle turn and actually there’s large signs upstream advising all rafters to portage it and for some unknown reason, this boat either chose not to portage it or was unable to in time,” he said.

The rafters involved in Thursday's accident were not on a professionally guided trip. Anthony said he encourages safety o the river, and going with someone who is an experienced guide if possible.

“Since 2006, since I’ve been doing law enforcement in Boise County, I don’t recall any fatalities with any of the local rafting companies so in my view the safest route to go is with a professional river guide,” Anthony said.

Boise man identified as 2nd rafter to die on Payette River in a week


JULY 12, 2019 06:30 PM,

It’s unclear why a raft went over a waterfall on the South Fork of the Payette River on Thursday afternoon — despite numerous signs warning rafters of the dangers — but the result was that one man died after three were tossed into the water. Kenneth J. Evans, 27, of Boise, died Thursday, Boise County Coroner Pam Garlock said late Friday afternoon. The raft that Evans was in went over Big Falls Rapid, said Garlock and the manager of a local guide company.

Kenneth Long of Cascade Raft & Kayak told the Statesman that Big Falls is a Class VI rapid. The classification system on shows that Class V rapids are “exceedingly difficult, long and violent rapids.” It says Class VI is unrunnable.  “Don’t even think about it! These constitute waterfalls and other death-traps that should not be attempted,” the website says.

Few people go over Big Falls intentionally, Long said, and there are warning signs where people typically put in the river, as well as near the rapid itself. It drops about 40 feet over three tiers. “We all portage it — we get out of the boats and walk around it,” Long said. “It is infrequently kayaked, but never intentionally rafted.” Big Falls is on a stretch of river called “the Canyon,” between Lowman and Garden Valley. Rafters typically put in at Deadwood Campground and get out at Danskin Station. It is primarily Class III-IV whitewater, which is moderately difficult to difficult.

The raft was one of three floating in a group without a guide, a Boise County sheriff’s deputy told KTVB Channel 7. Two of the rafts diverted to the shore before the falls. Three people were in the raft that went over the falls, and two people got out of the water safely, the deputy said.

From Tren Long,  Cascade Outdoors: 

We believe the run of Big Falls was unintentional. The eddy can be small at high water but the incident took place at normal water flows, there are signs above Big Falls advising to portage.  I never saw or heard of the official cause of death.  By the time the body was recovered it had gone down 3-5 miles of river thus had trauma. I am not sure about the level of experience of the group, nor am I sure if they are local or not.  Sorry I dont have too much information, it happened smack dab in the middle of a SUPER busy rescue week and the scene (reporting party and other trip members) were not available..

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