Accident Database

Report ID# 546

  • Flush Drowning
  • Hypothermia
  • One Boat Trip

Accident Description

SOURCE: posting

Tuesday, May 25, 1999 4:35 PM


Subject: Hells Canyon Drowning

I was unable to find any other news about this accident. Here's what I know. Perhaps someone else can fill in the blanks. A friend told me this morning of a tragic drowning accident that occured Friday in the Hells Canyon section of the Snake River near Lewiston, Idaho. As my friend tells it, he was with a group that had chartered a jet boat for a few days of sturgeon fishing on the Snake. They had tied up to shore on a stretch of flatwater and had just hooked a monster fish when they saw some debris floating by. They saw what looked like an ice chest, a paddle, and later a life jacket and then a swamped canoe float by. They didn't see any swimmers (or bodies), and they expected other members of the party with the canoeist to come by to pick up the pieces.

By the time they had landed and released the 10 foot fish, about 30 minutes had passed since the debris floated by, and they were starting to get pretty concerned. They took their jet boat upstream as far as they could safely go, but saw no more debris or anyone else on the river. They then went downstream to try and collect the gear they had seen.

By the time they caught up with it, another group had already retrieved all of the gear, and a body too. It turned out that the life jacket they had seen had someone still in it, but they couldn't tell since he was face down and mostly submerged and the water was pretty murky. They found the victim's trip permit in his wallet. He was in his early 20's, from Canada, and he was traveling alone. He had a flatwater canoe with no flotation bags, which he had his mountain bike tied into. He was wearing no coldwater gear, and had most likely died of exposure. This is a Class III-IV big water stretch. With his level of inexperience, his poor equipment, and traveling alone, in my opinion he didn't have much of a chance.

Sad :-( Steve

ANALYSIS:  (Walbridge) This is a Class III-IV stretch of big water. With the wrong equipment, and traveling alone, this poor fellow didn't have a chance.



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