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Accident Description


scott pickett on 07/29/2000@alaska.net>

Subject:Cascade River Washington State @wo.blm.gov>@alaska.net>

I am writing you in regards to a drowning of a friend on the Cascade River on July 10th of this year. The victims name is Mike Barker and he was a friend of mine. While trying to recover his body we discovered that he had become entrapped under a group of metal pilings in the main river channel from a collapsed bridge.@wo.blm.gov>@alaska.net>

After researching the history of the river I have found that in the past 5 years this is the third drowning to occur at exactly the same site. The previous two drownings were thought to be flush drownings at that time but after talking to individuals who were present at the time of those accidents they both may have been related to the metal in the stream. Both of the other victims were lost from sight at the exact location that Mike drowned although their bodies were found downstream later. Considering the location of their drownings and the frequency I now believe that the beams played a role in those accidents as well.@wo.blm.gov>@alaska.net>

I have been to the site and studied the river there. I also have been able to locate at least one other victim that did become entangled in the metal and was rescued. I have heard rumors of other such cases and I am currently trying to verify them. I have been paddling whitewater for over twenty years and cannot recall a man made obstacle that was as dangerous as the one at this site. @wo.blm.gov>@alaska.net>

What can be done to remove this obstruction? With whom do I need to contact to find funding to help with such an operation? Where do I start? I have already contacted the local Mt. Baker Ranger Station, Jon Vanderheyden, concerning signs to warn others of the potential danger. I understand that this is a Class V river and that it poses danger even without the man made obstructions but I believe and feel as though I can prove that the greatest danger on this Wild and Scenic River is not a naturally occurring object but an abandoned eye sore in the middle of the river. There are also huge piles of concrete and jumbled metal bars along the stream shoreline that are certain to end up in the riverbed during future floods. @wo.blm.gov>@alaska.net>

I would appreciate any assistance or guidance you could offer on this matter. This river is truly a natural wonder and it?s unfortunate that all this debris has also made it so deadly. With river running as popular a sport as it is today, I sincerely feel that history will repeat itself in the not so distant future if nothing is done about this matter. @wo.blm.gov>@alaska.net>

Thank you for your time. Scott Pickett @wo.blm.gov>@alaska.net>

In loving memory of Mike Barker, Eric Adler, and Jim Calthorne.@wo.blm.gov>@alaska.net>

On July 10th Mike Barker, 35, a strong Class V boater who had recently moved to Seattle from Tennessee, drowned on the Cascade River in Washington State. This Class V run starts off fast. Barker became caught in a hole at the bottom of the first rapid and recirculated for a long time. Then, debilitated from his battle with the hole, was carried by a fast-moving wave train into Bridge Wreck Rapid. There he washed into a nasty collection of rusting I-beams, rebar at midstream and disappeared. This is the same spot that another paddler died last year. Clay Wright commented that it looks like there?s a safe run-out here when scouting from the top, but the river is much more continuous here than you expect. As the water level dropped over the next few days, rescuers could see Barker?s body. Eventually they were able to make the recovery @wo.blm.gov>@alaska.net>