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River Incident Report #820165

Date of Incident: May 29, 1982
River: Colorado
Section of River: Cataract Canyon
Location on River: Rapid 10
Relative Flow: Moderate
Gage Reading: 36,500 cubic feet per second
Difficulty: N/A
Type of Incident: Impaired Judgement
Injuries: None
Type of Trip: Private
Type of Boat: Fiberglass Motor Boat

Description
Two men and a woman, who were members of the Friendship Cruise, did not recognize Mineral Canyon (Green River, Mile 52.2), their destination for the day. The Friendship Cruise is an annual event, a several-day trip in which motorized boats descend the Green River from Green River, Utah, to the confluence with the Colorado, and then ascend the Colorado to Moab, Utah. The trio continued to the confluence which it did not notice, and turned downstream into Cataract Canyon and past the warning sign for dangerous rapids, instead of upstream toward Moab. The boat shipped water at Brown Betty (Rapid 1, Colorado River Mile 212.3) and after running it the members put on their Type II life jackets. After running Rapid Two an unsuccessful attempt was made to return, and the participants decided to continue downstream. At 22:00 they stopped at the camp of a party which was descending Cataract Canyon (Rapid 10, Mile 208.5), and there they spent the night. The party had missed its intended goal by 60 miles!

A hiker reported the location of the erring group at 18:30 on May 30, and it was reached by a Park Service search party at 10:15 on May 31. On June 1 the men, woman, and their equipment (including numerous empty beer cans) were hauled to Hite on a Park Service J-Rig. In a subsequent interview with a member of the group which was descending Cataract Canyon, it was reported that the trio was intoxicated when it arrived at camp.

In Retrospect
1) If you drink don't drive. In this instance it led to not knowing or caring about location, and the inability to perceive a dangerous predicament. That nobody was injured is miraculous.
2) Two wise actions were taken by the three boaters: although inadequate for white water, they put on the Type II life preservers which were available when they realized they were in rapids; and when the full recognition of their situation occurred they did not proceed but waited for assistance.

Did You Know?

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