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.