Accident Database

Report ID# 607

  • Swim into Strainer
  • PFD Not Worn or Present
  • Does not Apply
  • Inadequate Equipment
  • Inexperience
  • Poor Group / Scene Management
  • Poor Planning
  • One Boat Trip

Accident Description

DESCRIPTION: A 27-year-old woman drowned in Washington ’s Green River late in the afternoon of July 10, 1999 after the pedal boat she was piloting flipped in some easy rapids. The section of Green River between Flaming Geyser State Park and Whitney Bridge Park is a popular Class II-III run often used by tubers, rafters and kayakers. But it’s not without hazards! Two people drowned here in separate rafting accidents during the month of May.

Fatima Hawley and her party had been riding the river in a boat powered by two sets of foot pedals - a plastic contraption not fit for whitewater. The boat, which had two seats, flipped in an easy Class III rapid. Except for a 5 year old child, nobody on board was wearing life jackets. Hawley was pulled into a logjam. She had no pulse by the time firefighters and medics reached her and died at the scene. A baby was swept downstream, but people standing on a nearby sandbar were able to grab the child. Others helped rescue a toddler, and an  8 year-old, the child with the life jacket, and the other adult.

SOURCE: Seattle Times and Rich Penny

ANALYSIS: This woman, in her ignorance, took frightful risks. Her choice of boat guaranteed a swim. The absence of PFD’s, especially for the children, is hard to imagine. This incident proved that strainers are dangerous, especially to novices.


Pedal boats are not river worthy, as a young woman found out too late. Fatima Hawley, 27, decided to take one down the Green River near Whitney Bridge Park in Washington State with four other people. This is an easy whitewater stretch, popular with tubers and paddlers. When the pedal boat flipped in turbulence, two adults and three kids hit the water. Only one person, a 5-year old child, was wearing a life vest. The others swam to shore safely, but Hawley washed into a strainer. She was dead by the time firefighters and medics reached her.





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