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River Incident Report #957004

Date of Incident: May 17, 1995
River: Colorado
Section of River: Cataract Canyon
Location on River: Big Drop Two, Mile 202.3
Relative Flow: Moderate
Gage Reading: 33,900 cubic feet per second
Difficulty: Class IV
Type of Incident: Thrown from boat
Injuries: Drowning
Type of Trip: Commercial
Type of Boat: Raft

Description
Two rafts of a commercial river company were running the Big Drops when one raft, containing a boatman and a 41 year old helper, struck a rock in Big Drop Two. The helper was dislodged from his position and grasped the boatman for security, and as a consequence both men were pitched into the river. The boatman swam to safety, and later reported that his helper bobbed through the rapids making no effort to extricate himself from the water.

The second boat reached the victim near the mouth of Imperial Canyon (Mile 200.1) where a physician administered CPR, and later pronounced him dead. The group was subsequently encountered by the Canyonlands River Patrol which, in separate trips, transported the passengers and the victim to Hite.

In Retrospect
Canyoneers should recognize the danger inherent in navigating Cataract Canyon. That one's life is safer in his living room while watching television than it is while cruising through rapids on the Colorado River is self evident. Even when all known precautions are taken, as in this instance, fortuitous events may occur. The safety record of commercial boating companies in Cataract Canyon is excellent, far better than that of private groups, however, they are not immune to accidents.

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.