Accident Database

Report ID# 53

  • Swim into Strainer
  • Head Injury / Concussion
  • Cold Water
  • High Water

Accident Description

Idaho's South Fork of the Salmon is one of the most challenging runs in Idaho, dropping 180 feet per mile. At high flows it is very continuous and committing, with much Class IV and V whitewater. Dane Wray, 36, was a very experienced Canadian boater who was making the run with four friends. They had run the river without difficulty before encountering a steep drop towards the end of  "The Miracle Mile". 

After scouting, the group made their run. Wray, running third, had a shaky run; he rolled at the top of the rapid then flipped again at the bottom. After several roll attempts he bailed out.  His friends, who were on shore watching, leaped into their boats and gave chase. They found his boat and paddle, but there was no sign of the swimmer.

After summoning search and rescue  the pair made a thorough search of the riverbanks below the rapid. They spotted  Mr. Wray's body pinned against a log on the far shore.  Sherrif's deputies, assisted by  local paddlers and a search and rescue team, made the recovery the next day.

SOURCE: Unsigned report forwarded by Ron Fry

Analysis: Although rescue in big Class IV whitewater is always difficult, the presence of a safety boat, in the water and ready to go, might have made a difference.

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