Accident Database

Report ID# 553

  • Flush Drowning
  • Hypothermia
  • Cold Water
  • High Water
  • One Boat Trip

Accident Description

This was on the rafting news mail server

Kevin I'm surprised that I haven't read about Sundays death on the Wenatchee here yet. The news story is at esday.html I was on the river that day and the morning guage reading was 12,2k at Peshastin and 13,5k at Monitor. Drunkards Drop had really nice rolling waves. I have 'heard' a rumor that the man who drowned was wearing 'waders' and the news story makes it sound like the two were in a department store raft. Makes me wonder where they put-in. Life is a, Butch

WENATCHEE-A longtime professional river guide is warning people that they need to put more thought into whitewater adventures this time of year following the drowning of a rafter Sunday on the Wenatchee River. Planning for rafting trips involves more than just pulling on a swimsuit, dragging the yellow rubber raft out of the basement and grabbing a water ski vest as you head out the door, Bruce Carlson said. "It's unfortunate that accidents like this have to happen, but it's a good time to remind people to use common sense and caution on the river," said Carlson, owner of All Rivers Adventures Wenatchee Whitewater and Co. of Cashmere. Although temperatures outside are soaring into the 80s and 90s, the temperature of the rivers as they flow down from the mountains are hovering around 38 to 40 degrees. "The biggest danger in the river right now isn't current and rocks but hypothermia," he said.

William Edgar Gallaher, 55, Tenino, drowned Sunday afternoon while rafting with his wife on the Wenatchee River. He was swept down the river after his personal raft capsized near an area called Drunkard's Drop, just west of Cashmere. Nearby kayakers pulled his body from the river about 2:30 p.m., but resuscitation attempts were futile, said Chelan County chief deputy coroner Sandra Ellis. The coroner's office determined the cause of Gallaher's death was drowning with a contributing factor of hypothermia, Ellis said. He was believed to be wearing a life jacket, but the flotation device was not on him when he was pulled from the river, she said. Gallaher's wife, Janice, survived the accident. Carlson said Gallaher's boat was too small for the river this time of year. About two hours after that incident, Chelan County sheriff's deputies responded to a report of a male stranded on a log in the White River, just south of the Napeequa Crossing Campground in the Lake Wenatchee area. James A. Young of Seattle was rescued from the log using a rope, deputies reported. He became stranded about 30 yards from shore in water 3 to 4 feet deep after following his dog into the river. About the same time, Somphien Un of Lynnwood and Chad Manivanh of Bothell crawled onto the White River bank uninjured after their raft capsized in the White River near Napeequa Campground.

"It just goes to show if you're unprepared, the force of the water is tremendous," said Sheriff Mike Brickert. Carlson said the Wenatchee River had already dropped a foot this morning from its peak over the weekend. But he said warm days will bring more high water days this spring. He anticipates the river will continue to run high and cold through July because of the large snowpack in the mountains. He said the most important thing people need to remember when rafting is to wear a wetsuit. They also need to know their skill level, the danger of the river, and that they have the right equipment for whitewater rafting, he said. General purpose rafts bought at department stores are generally designed for half the people they say, while life jackets should be specially designed for rafting rather than water skiing.

He cautioned that the Wenatchee River is most dangerous now between Leavenworth and Cashmere. It's slightly calmer between Cashmere and Wenatchee, from Lake Wenatchee to Plain, and from Plain to the top of Tumwater Canyon. The river is wider in those areas, he said, and it's easier to go around the rapids. Rafters should never attempt Tumwater Canyon itself, he said. "That's suicide," he added. He urged people to call professional outfitters like himself to find out which stretches of the river are the most dangerous and to assess their individual skill levels. If people do flip their rafts, he said, they should hang on to their paddle and immediately face downstream. He said they should keep their feet up and use them to push off obstacles such as rocks and logs. People should try to get to shore immediately, he warned, rather than trying to save their raft. "The cold water will shrink your lung capacity and slows down the thinking process," he said. "You won't last longer than a couple of minutes in that water."

SAFETY TIPS Things to remember if you choose to raft or kayak on your own in North Central Washington waters: � Wear a wet suit or dry suit and booties � Have a throw line in the craft � Use a special rafting life jacket, which has more flotation and neck support than one designed for water skiing � If you end up in the water, try to stay on your back, facing downstream and use your feet to push away from obstacles � Never let go of your paddle � Remember, rafts bought at the store are usually designed for half the people they say, so


Sent: Saturday, June 05, 1999 1:01 AM

Subject: Drowing on Wenatchee, WA 6_3_99

Subject: Rafting Death on the Wenatchee (WA) From: Marc Pottie

r Date: Thu, Jun 3, 1999 10:46 EDT Message-id:>

Apparently there was a death on the Wenatchee this weekend. The Wenatchee has been running pretty big for the last few weeks. Most holes are washed out, but I suppose you can drown in big waves as well if you inhale enough water. Be careful out there. My condolences and best wishes to the family and friends. -MarcTo the north, in Washington State, William Gallager, 53, drowned after his raft flipped on the Wenachee River at Dunkard's drop. The water level was 13,500 cfs; quite high. Gallager's life vest was torn from his body, and he was lifeless when pulled to shore by kayakers.>

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