Accident Database

Report ID# 851

  • Flush Drowning
  • Does not Apply
  • High Water

Accident Description

Ladle Rapid is the most formidable drop on Idaho's magnificent Selway River. The gauge at the put-in on June 5th read roughly 4.8 feet; not unreasonably high, but still big water.

According to Vince Thompson's Idaho Whitewater Page, Gail Sparwasser, 58, was a part of a large party of 16 people in 13 rafts. She and her husband, both of whom had done the river before, ran first in a 14' self-bailing oar-frame boat. Their raft capsized in big waves and holes, throwing them into the water. Other rafts in the party gave chase, but at this level Ladle is one of a long chain of drops with big waves and holes. The river is wide and turbulent here, so finding a single person is not easy. Although her husband swam safely ashore, Ms. Sparwasser washed past everyone. She was spotted and picked up by another party downstream. They attempted resuscitation unsuccessfully.

Join AW and support river stewardship nationwide!