Accident Database

Report ID# 768

  • PFD Not Worn or Present
  • Does not Apply
  • Inadequate Equipment
  • Inexperience
  • One Boat Trip

Accident Description

There are several serious Class V drops on California's Stanislaus River between Goodwin Dam and Knight's Ferry. On June 30th a raft with four paddlers attempted the run. None of them were wearing life vests, helmets, or wetsuits. Their experience was limited to rafting the Class II section just downstream.

According to an article in the Sacramento Bee, the group flipped in "Mr. Toad's Wild Ride" earlier in the day. Then the group washed into "The Matterhorn", an 8 foot high ledge into a very nasty hole. Commercial outfitters portage here when the water is as low as it was that day. One man bailed out above the drop and swam to shore; the others went over and washed out.

Mario Rosales, 20, who apparently couldn't swim, was last seen floating downstream on his back. The group, shoeless and battered, ended up on opposite sides of the river. One man had a broken leg. Someone hiked out of the steep canyon and called authorities. The Toulumne County Search and Rescue Team responded and was able to recover the body the next day.

Several inexperienced people apparently attempted to run the III-IV Stanislaus run. They were not wearing wetsuits, helmets, or PFD's. Their raft flipped--or ejected its paddlers--and all of them made it to safety except for Mario Rosales, 20, a non-swimmer. His body was found floating downstream.

"If you do everything right, it can still end up wrong," said Barry Edwards, a volunteer with Tuolumne County Search and Rescue. "When you do everything wrong, like these people were doing, you're pretty much asking for trouble." The group was trying out a raft that one of them had just bought. They apparently had no idea of what they were attempting.

At that day's low water level, rafters typically don't run Matterhorn Rapid. This group did, and the rapid ejected all of them. In addition to Rosales, another rafter, identified only as "John," had a broken leg. Extricating him from the deep canyon took until 2 PM.

See also

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