Accident Database

Report ID# 50560

  • Pinned in Boat against Rock or Sieve
  • Does not Apply
  • Other

Accident Description

Scenario 1 – East Fork Kaweah - July 24th 2019 

Our group of 6 very experienced class V+ paddlers on the East Fork Kaweah, a run we had all done before, at perfect medium flows, had a very traumatic experience towards the bottom of the run. The rapid has a known hazard on the right and would be considered an easy rapid for the run, typically isn’t scouted, and is very straight forward. Paddler 1 went first down the rapid as paddler 2 slightly missed his line and had his bow deflected to the right in to the known hazard. I was directly behind and saw his entire boat disappear under the water as I passed and couldn’t see him or his body. From there paddler 1 and myself were at the bottom of the rapid in a narrow gorge with little egress or ways to get back to the top of the rapid where paddler 2 was pinned. The other 3 paddlers quickly got out of their boats, 2 on river right near the victim, and the last on river left. 

Myself and paddler 1 were trying our hardest to get out of our boats to go up and get hands on the victim, but were unable to find a good eddy or ledge to get out. Meanwhile, the other 2 paddlers on river right had gotten out of their boats with their throw bags and were able to see and grab the bow of the victim’s boat. The victim had fallen off a ~4ft ledge with their bow pointed at the right shore and their cockpit upstream and got pinned like this with the force of the current pressing them back against their stern. As the 2 paddlers tried to move the victim’s boat, the victim was slowly able to put their hands against the drainage slots near the hips on the cockpit, and press on their legs to slowly “wiggle” out of their skirt tunnel with the skirt still attached to the boat. Once they came free, they came down the rest of the rapid where I was in my boat at the main outflow and they were able to grab my boat as we floated down the pool to the shore. 

The victim was pinned underwater for 48 seconds, and is adamant that were they wearing his webbing around their waist, over the spray skirt, as we have all done, they wouldn’t have been able to rescue them self. Their boat was pinned for another 45 minutes while we got it unstuck. Where the victim was stuck, I don’t know if a stabilization line would have been possible or any other kind of rope based rescue because of where the victim was stuck. The only other method the 6 of us could come up with was to try and jump out further in to the rapid to grab the side of the boat and maybe the victim, but this would mean for sure swimming the rest of the rapid and no longer being a resource to rescue should this not work. The skirt was lost, and another boater in our group finished the run without his skirt. 

The rapid can be seen on this page called “Worth a Scout” 

Also here ( with the caption “A few boulder gardens and slides lead into a large pool above a deceptive rapid,  it's a fine line between the endercut on the left and a pin on the right. Shannamar Dewey, 2016.” 

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