Accident Database

Report ID# 99173

  • Pinned in Boat against Rock or Sieve
  • Does not Apply
  • Cold Water
  • Failed Rescue

Accident Description

Update: the concrete barrier that caused the accident has been removed

Report by Dawna Little Zukirmi, a local livery operator

 I arrived on scene after the rescue was already under way. The KSL report was not exactly accurate. There were no rafts involved. The water was flowing a little below average, at 409 cfs coming out of Echo. There is a concrete barricade that used to be a functional part of this diversion dam:

Last June, the high water pushed the barricade a foot or two down stream from the dam, so it was no longer a functional part of the diversion structure and was no longer helping to divert water. It had become a hazard at that time. The barricade is laying on it's side, creating a concrete shelf where current pushes under the shelf. It is not visible from upstream until you come right up on it, at which point it is too late to adjust your path. It is right where the main run and best little soaking wave used to exist. So people who have been there in years past would likely head right for that spot. The safest place to run it is now left.

The man was in a Tributary Tandem inflatable kayak with another paddler. They had at least one more tandem inflatable kayak with them and a total of 5 people in the group, including a young adult and 3 young teen or pre-teen kids. The man's ik was wrapped around the barricade and he was pinned on his side at about waist or chest level. I arrived about 20 minutes after the Morgan County Swiftwater Rescue Team was called out (and then they cancelled the call to us because Summit County and DNR had enough responders there.)

His head was above water but his face was away from me so I couldn't see if he was conscious at that time. I do not know if his head was above water the entire time before I got there. The lower half of his body was probably pushed up under the barricade with the current. It is a big enough cavity under that concrete shelf that a whole body could easily be completely submerged and pinned under there without being visible from the surface.

The rescuers struggled hard for about 15-20 minutes after I got there to unpin him. So I estimate that he was in the 45 degree water for at least 30-40 minutes. Even at low flow when they fly fisherman is wading out right above the dam, the force of that little spill over made it almost impossible to get him unpinned, even with the help of 7 rescuers who were in the water in close contact with him, and several more rescuers at the bank with ropes, etc.

When they finally got him unpinned and to the bank, they said he didn't have a pulse and immediately started CPR. CPR continued for 20 minutes before they turned off the chopper engine. I left at that point.

Last June at about 1100 CFS, I unsuspectingly flipped my inflatable kayak there just after the concrete barricade had moved out of the dam. Fortunately for me, the water was high enough that I made it over the top of the barricade. I spun a few times in the hydraulic below the barricade. Hit my helmeted head on the concrete and then flushed out. Later last summer after the water dropped to normal irrigation flow, I saw another group with their inflatable kayak wrapped around the barricade with ropes strung back and forth across the channel trying to get it unwrapped.

As a side note, there is no legal public access up stream from the Henefer Public put-in at exit 112. Angler access sites are not legal boating access sites, unless you are angling while you are boating. We lease access at another private property site at Echo and commonly raft/kayak the Echo to Henefer run where there are 3 dangerous diversion structures. Although we have not started floating up there yet as we are working with ranchers on waiting to remove fences until the water comes up high enough to be the fence to keep their cows in. If you are interested in legally accessing the Echo-Henefer run, I can arrange it for a group of you for an access fee that would go to the property owner."

Carter Williams,

69-year-old man killed after overturning raft on Weber River

By Lauren Bennett,

Posted - May 28, 2020

HENEFER, Summit County — A 69-year-old man died on Thursday after his raft overturned on the Weber River and he became wedged between two rocks, Summit County Sheriff’s Lt. Andrew Wright confirmed. There were two rafts carrying the man’s son and two grandchildren, Wright said. One raft overturned at about 1 p.m. and everyone except for the grandfather was able to exit the water safely.

Summit County search and rescue teams responded to the incident, and several sheriff’s deputies jumped in the water to free the man. The man, who was underwater for a while, was rescued and transported via medical helicopter to a hospital in critical condition. The man, who is from the Salt Lake Valley but has not been identified, later died of his injuries.

Because of rapidly moving water with cold temperatures, Wright advised people to consider waiting to raft until the end of the water runoff season.

Contributing: Emerson Oligschlaeger, KSL TV


Join AW and support river stewardship nationwide!