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River Incident Report #937004

Date of Incident: April 27, 1993
River: Colorado
Section of River: Cataract Canyon
Location on River: Big Drop Three
Relative Flow: Low
Gage Reading: 18,840 cubic feet per second
Difficulty: Class IV
Type of Incident: Capsized Boat
Injuries: Drowning
Type of Trip: Private
Type of Boat: Ryken Whitewater Raft

Description
A 46 year old male in poor physical conditions was in a group of 18 which was navigating Cataract Canyon in seven rafts and a whitewater canoe. After the Big Drops were scouted at 13:15, he was one of two passengers in the fourth raft entering Big Drop Two. There, the boat was carried into Little Niagara and both passengers were ejected; one regained the raft quickly and the 46 year old was picked up by his boatman in the tail waves. Being out of position, the raft then washed into the hydraulic known as Satans Gut in Big Drop Three (Mile 202.2) where it capsized. The same passenger who quickly regained the boat in Big Drop Two, here swam to shore while the boatman climbed atop the overturned boat. The 46 year old floated into Rapid 24. Being in close proximity, the boatman heard him say he could not swim anymore. The victim drifted through Rapid 25 and his body was recovered in an eddy above Rapid 26 (Ten Cent Rapid, Mile 201.1) at 13:30. Efforts to revive the victim were futile and the group carried his body to Hite and reported the accident.

In Retrospect
1) This boating group was experienced, well equipped, and knowledgeable. Thus, the accident accents the inherent danger in boating through Cataract Canyon.
2) The poor physical condition of the victim and his exertion at Big Drop Two contributed to his exhaustion and inability to struggle for his life.

Did You Know?

Summer Monsoon

Much of canyon country's annual precipitation falls during summer monsoons. These dramatic storms often last less than twenty minutes but can cause powerful flash floods despite their brevity.