River Incident Report #977022

Date of Incident: July 24, 1997
River: Colorado
Section of River: Cataract Canyon
Location on River: Between Big Drop Two and Big Drop Three, Mile 202.3
Relative Flow: Low
Gage Reading: 11,250 cubic feet per second
Difficulty: N/A
Type of Incident: Attempted Suicide
Injuries: Lacerated Wrists
Type of Trip: Commercial
Type of Boat: Row Raft

A 20 year old woman, who was a passenger on a commercial river trip, attempted to commit suicide by slashing each of her wrists approximately six times with a Swiss Army knife. Immediately following her act, the woman called for help. Her wounds, which were not serious, were treated by the trip guides and she and her father were transported downstream where a Park Service patrol was encountered at Ten Cent Rapid (Mile 201.1). Arrangements were made by radio to meet an ambulance from the nearest community with a hospital, and Rangers transported the woman and her father in the Park's patrol boat to the Hite Marina.

Based on interviews, the woman was moody and had difficulty in adapting socially with her contemporaries. Her father planned the boat trip as an opportunity for them to strengthen their own relationship.

In Retrospect
1) Most commercial guides in Cataract Canyon are well trained and versatile. They must be able to contend with the unpredictable emergencies which arise.
2) The coincidence of the Park Service's presence expedited the transfer of the victim to a medical facility.
3) The great outdoors is often touted as a cure all for mental problems. Don't count on it.

Last updated: March 31, 2012

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