Accident Database

Report ID# 50458

  • Swim into Rock or Sieve
  • Does not Apply
  • Inexperience

Accident Description

Mike Williams on FB: A rental got into trouble at Rivers End. They hit Whale Rock, and a man fell out the back. He became trapped under the raft and in the sieve at Snaggletooth Rock next to flatiron/the wall. Both legs were in the sieve, which was surprising because it’s supposed to be a pretty small opening. My friend was one of the first to get there. Arms hanging over the top of the sieve and legs going into the sieve, head under the water. He was hard to see unless you were looking for something. the raft was on top for a moment, but then washed off.  (Story confirmed by other guides in town) 

Man's body recovered after rafting accident on Youghiogheny River at Ohiopyle 


Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

 AUG 31, 2019 3:39 PM

A man died Saturday afternoon while whitewater rafting on the Youghiogheny River after he was thrown from a raft and his foot became trapped under a rock, the operations manager of Ohiopyle State Park said. 

The Fayette County coroner’s office was en route late Saturday afternoon to the remote location on the Lower Youghiogheny between Ohiopyle and Connellsville, about 1½ miles upstream from the Bruner Run take-out point. 

The man, said to be between 40 and 50 years old, was one of a group of eight family and friends who had rented two rafts from White Water Adventurers, one of four outfitters in Ohiopyle, said Ken Bisbee, Ohiopyle’s operations manager.He called the situation an “extremely unfortunate” accident. 

Saturday, August 31, 2019, at Ohiopyle State Park in Ohiopyle. 

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 

Pittsburgh-area man who died in Ohiopyle rafting accident identified 

Around 1 p.m., the county 911 center contacted the park about a raft that had overturned at River’s End Rapid, two rapids north of the notorious Dimple Rock Rapid, which has been the site of numerous rafting deaths over the years, and about six miles downstream from the town of Ohiopyle. The rapid is named River’s End because, from a point upstream, it appears that there are large rocks almost two stories high completely across the river from bank to bank. 

Mr. Bisbee said there is nothing inherently deadly about the River’s End Rapid. Rather, he said, it appeared the man had fallen victim to a well-known potential danger among whitewater rafters — getting thrown out of a raft and instinctively putting a foot down to reach the river bottom. 

Rafters are typically told in safety briefings to never stand up if thrown in the water while going through a rapid -- “keep your nose and toes out of the water,” Mr. Bisbee said, citing a “nose and toes” mantra — precisely because a foot can become trapped. 

“All of our rapids have particular dangers to them. You just have to navigate through them, and people pop out of their raft at various rapids throughout the length of the river. The biggest thing we try to teach is: Keep your feet out, and ride through the rapid.” 

The force of the rapid, even in water as shallow as the Youghiougheny River, which was running perhaps two feet deep Saturday, can bowl someone over from behind and force them down facefirst so they can’t breathe. The water level on the gauge below the falls in Ohiopyle Saturday was 1.95 feet. 

“You know how it is, people panic and they try to stand up,” Mr. Bisbee said. “The force of the moving water pushes you over, and you can’t stand up.” 

That appears to be what happened Saturday after all eight people in the group were thrown from two rafts — four were in each, he said, adding that the victim was in the lead raft. 

The raft struck Whale Head Rock, capsized and the victim got pushed in the turbulent water toward Flat Iron Rock. 

“One person in the raft tried to stand up and got a foot entrapped and had been underwater for about 35 minutes, and he is deceased,” Mr. Bisbee said. “When you get a foot entrapment like that, people underestimate the force of moving water.” 

The body was recovered around 2:30 p.m., Mr. Bisbee said. The man was wearing a life preserver. 

Mr. Bisbee said the death was the first in the state park since 2015 when a man climbed over an observation deck railing to have his picture taken, slipped on black ice and fell into the 20-foot Ohiopyle Falls below. 

The last boating-related death on the Youghiogheny was in 2009, according to Mr. Bisbee. Mr. Bisbee said crisis counseling was made available to the victim’s friends and family who were in the raft. 

Jonathan D. Silver:, 412-263-1962 or on Twitter @jsilverpg. Staff writer Andrew Goldstein contributed.

Mt. Lebanon man drowns in family outing at Ohiopyle

By JOE NAPSHA   | Monday, September 2, 2019

A Mt. Lebanon man drowned Saturday in a rafting accident along the Youghiogheny River at Ohiopyle State Park in what was a weekend outing for family and friends, the Fayette County coroner said Monday.

Peter Quigley, 46, of Pine Tree Road, was pinned underwater when he fell out of a raft and his left ankle became caught in a rock in a section of the Youghiogheny near River’s End.

There, the strong current is funneled between two large rocks, said Coroner Dr. Phillip E. Reilly. The accident happened about 1 p.m. and Quigley was pronounced dead at the scene at 4:28 p.m., Reilly said.

Quigley’s raft overturned when it was pushed up a smooth rock, Reilly said. Ohiopyle State Park officials said there were four people in the raft when it flipped. The others reached safety.

Quigley’s son attempted to save his father by holding him above the water, Reilly said.  “It is a hazardous area … and the hazard is magnified (by the current). This is a tragic accident,” Reilly said. 

The accident happened about six miles into what is a typically a seven-mile rafting trip down what is known as the Lower Youghiogheny River. Reilly said he was told by park officials that the water level on the river Saturday was at a normal depth. 

Family and friends had rented two rafts for the outing at Ohiopyle. They had ropes with them during their trip, the coroner said. “This was a well-prepared trip,” Reilly said.

The accident was investigated by Ohiopyle State Park officials and it will be reviewed to see what, if anything, might be done along that section of the river, Reilly said. There is no “easily correctable hazard there,” Reilly said. 

The coroner, who is in his seventh term, said that his office sometimes face situations where families of victims are surprised that rafting can be dangerous along that stretch of the Youghiogheny River. They mistake rafting along the Youghiogheny for riding in a raft at an amusement park, Reilly said. “Some people think it is like ennywood or Disney World. There are Class III and Class IV rapids,” Reilly said.

Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe at 724-836-5252, or via Twitter .


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