Accident Database

Report ID# 652

  • Pinned in Boat against Rock or Sieve
  • Does not Apply
  • Failed Rescue

Accident Description

From: Dave Good []

Sent: Saturday, September 23, 2000

I should have got this info to you sooner. I was thinking about it but you know how that goes. Reading your report in the latest AW got me to send this on. The only changes are that we did know of the rock and the extraction was more than 4 hours. Thanks for your service to the boating community of the years.

The following is an account I shared with the Gold Country Paddlers. ? dg On June 5th I was paddling with Derek Snellings, Joel and Bruce on the North Yuba. That was the day Derek drowned in Two Pair. I would like to share the story with you to clear up any rumors.

Joel mentioned the piton rock in Two Pair on the shuttle and we all knew the line was left of the fan of water shooting up from this rock. Derek had run Goodyear's twice already and his skills were excellent for a one year boater. Ironically, he was very conservative and thoughtful about his paddling unlike most typical young men of his age (17). He had been running Chamberlains quite a bit this spring but wisely said no to an invitation to Wild Plum.

Anyway, we eddied out above Two Pair on river right and Joel went over the line again. Bruce went to portage on the left. Joel went first. I asked Derek if he got it and he said "I think so but I'll follow you". As I approached Joel between the two holes (I was online) he was looking upstream and saw Derek pin and yelled instantly. Joel ferried to river right and I got out on the left. Derek was right in the middle of the roaster tail, stuck on the rock, on the right side of the top hole at Two Pair. He was above water from his ribs up, pointed downstream at an angle less than 45 to the current.

I hit him with the throw bag and he caught it. The boat did not move with a simple tug and we could not talk over the river noise. I signaled to drop the rope and threw it over to Joel. We set up a clothesline under Derek's right arm and had him stabilized. Derek thought that he had enough leverage to make his move and he suddenly went for it. I could see confidence in his eyes and was full of hope that he would come free- he did not. This had been just a few minutes since the pin. Floatbags and foam is all that came out. He was plowed forward by the current and trapped behind the knee by one leg in the cockpit like when one hangs from their leg on a bar. We could not see him at all. (Hours later as the water receded we could decipher his body position.)

Attempts at getting him a rope were useless at this time. Joel ferried over to my side and we hooked into his rescue harness. The hydraulics made it impossible to get to Derek. We knew it was over. PFD came out and later his helmet. Bruce went for help. More than three hours later, a team of rescue people on their third or fourth anchor point high on an oak tree trunk, with a 12 to 1 and 8 people pulling, moved the rock a few feet and the boat and body flushed off.

I have returned several times to the site.  The rock is a lot smaller than I thought it would be- about the size of a Lazy Boy. It is that sharp, slatey, metamorphic rock of the area and it can grab a boat like velcro. It is perched on a ledge that runs along the river bank. I think that the hazard was lowered by moving the rock downstream out of the hole a bit, but I just can not tell. A lot of boaters have bounced right off of it not knowing it was a brush with death. I hope that none of you have to endure the pain of losing a friend. We all know the risks involved with kayaking and we all hope not to pay them.

Tuesday, June 06, 2000 3:57 PM

Subject: Kayaker dies on North Yuba

On the afternoon of June 5, 2000, a kayaker running the North Yuba had pin near Convict Flat and with a rescue rope in hand thrown from shore was getting out of his boat and unable to get his second foot out before the kayak flipped onto the hull. He was caught underwater for 40 minutes before he was retrieved. He was 17 years old. My condolences to his family and friends.

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