The North Fork of the Sauk in Washington State is a steep, technical creek run with an impressive 187 fpm gradient. On June 28th, with the river running at a low 500 cfs, a three-person group attempted the run. Among them was Kay Denfeld, 57, a very experienced local kayaker. She was having a great day.
There are a series of steep drops at the beginning of the run, followed by a fast, technical section. A posting to the Washington Kayak Club bulletin board by one of her companions described what happened here: Denfeld flipped on a wave and washed into a bad boulder sieve on river left. Here she became trapped underwater between the rocks and her back deck.
Her friends quickly scrambled upstream to help her. One man, trying to leap onto her boat, hit the water and washed under a rock. The pair then crawled out onto a log jam where one man belayed the other into position so that a rope could be attached to Denfeld's grab loop. When they pulled the boat free, Denfeld fell out and floated downriver, unconscious. The pair chased her down, pulled her ashore, and began CPR. The Snohomish County Rescue team arrived with a defibrillator, but they were unsuccessful.