River Incident Report #977027
Date of Incident: September 27, 1997
The captain of the paddle boat and perhaps the entire party, was unaware of its location when it reached the Big Drops at 13:30, and nobody scouted the rapids. Much of the experience of the captain was as a passenger. She had been through the canyon four times, but only when the river was flowing about 5,000 cfs. She rated herself as an intermediate boater, and stated that she neither had paddle-captain experience, nor wished to direct the raft through the Big Drops. In addition, after running Big Drop One her attention was distracted by a swimmer whose kayak had capsized there, and as a result the course of her raft was over the crest of the feature known as Little Niagara and into the hole below where it overturned.
Regrouping and rescue operations were complicated by the flipping of the second kayak at Little Niagara with the consequence that three boats were upside down and eight people were in the river simultaneously; three of the eight sustained injuries in addition to the victim. The victim floated for a mile and a half and through four rapids before he was reached at 13:50 below Ten Cent Rapid (Mile 201.0). He was face up and in his life jacket, but lifeless, and attempts to revive him with CPR failed. A passing commercial trip transported one of the injured to Hite from where she was flown by helicopter to a hospital for treatment of possible concussion.