Accident Database

Report ID# 80

  • PFD Fell Off
  • Does not Apply
  • High Water

Accident Description

Section 3 of the Wolf River is composed mostly of rock gardens with a few larger boulders the size of a van. On June 1, 1991 the river was running at 1640 cfs, a moderate flow considerably higher than the normal summer level of 400 cfs. Boy Scout Rapid is a 400 yard Class III drop consisting of 3-4' waves and holes.  In early afternoon a rental raft rode up on thee pillow of a large rock that serves as the support for a footbridge at the Gardiner Dam Boy Scout Camp and capsized.  An 18 year-old Boy Scout slipped out of his life vest and disapeared below the surface. His body was spotted by a Coast Guard helicopter and retrieved by a group of kayak instructors working closely with local rescue squads and law enforcement.

SOURCE: Dave Farin, Whitewater Specialty, White Lake, WI1) Horse Collar life vests are only effective if they are put on properly. The system of straps, clips, and ties is more complicated than you might think, which explains why so many of them fall off in whitewater. Vest-type life preservers are preferable, not only because they are easier to put on securely but because the foam on the back offers good protection from rocks.

2) The instructors at Whitewaster Specialty are to be commended for effectively organizing and leading the rescue attemt. Their efforts to establish a liason with local rescue and law enforcement groups oaid big dividends on that day.

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