Accident Database

Report ID# 9088

  • Flush Drowning
  • Does not Apply
  • Other

Accident Description

The man's name was Richard Sanders according to the Maine Warden Service. He was in a 7-person raft.


On June 3, 2017, North Country Rivers experienced a death on a commercial whitewater rafting trip on the Dead River during a controlled release of 5000 cubic feet per second. In this group, there were 5 rafts running tightly together. All rafts were guided by Registered Maine Whitewater Guides. This trip conformed to all safety regulations mandated by law and rule. All guests were outfitted with proper safety equipment - life jackets, helmets and full wetsuits. 


One raft flipped at the bottom of Mile Long rapid on the Dead River. The remaining 4 rafts in the group quickly performed a rescue in an expeditious and timely manner, all guests were quickly pulled into rafts. One guest, a 67 year old male was not breathing; a guide with EMT certifications initiated CPR, additional individuals with EMT certifications assisted. Communication was activated to EMS and the individual was evacuated to an ambulance. Because the swim was short and the guests were rescued quickly, some kind of health problem is suspected.


Our thoughts and prayers are with the family.


Jim Murton

North Country Rivers


Update 18-Jul-2017:

The Maine Chief Medical Examiner's office has confirmed the cause of death to be drowning and that no other medical conditions were present.

Reports [second hand] from other rafting companies state that victim was trapped in a well-known dangerous river feature called "Evil Nasty Hole" (which has also been the site of previous accidents, and is documented on the AW river pages) located at the bottom of Mile Long Rapid.

News reports state the raft carrying seven passengers flipped in Mile Long Rapid, throwing the victim along with six others into the water. No other details were mentioned.

Skip Morris
American Whitewater
New England Regional Streamkeeper


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