This is from Brad Modesitt, owner of Mountain Whitewater Descents. I wanted to clear some things up. I was sitting right next to Jason as he fell into the smiling hole on the sixth run. Another trainee also fell into the hole, but she flushed out quickly.
Jason and I had already done a trip down Gates of Lodore in March and a trip down Westwater in April. He already had classroom training on how to get out of a hole and he had read the Complete Whitewater Rafter by Jeff Bennett.
Jason was wearing polypro top and bottoms, 3mm wetsuit, NRS booties, kayak splash jacket, Protec kayak helmet, and class V PFD. He had accumulated 30 hours of river time.
Jason stayed in the hole for approximately ten seconds. When he flushed and surfaced, he was face down. A 3rd year guide and Rescue 3 Swiftwater Technician, swam out approximately ten yards, flipped Jason over and swam him to shore. I met them as he reached shore and the two of us and one other carried him up the bank. He was not breathing and had no pulse. Rescue Breaths and CPR were started immediately. The time from him going into the hole and the start of CPR was approximately one minute. Within another minute, a car on the Interstate using OnStar was notified of the incident. We had people running either direction to use the highway call boxes and on the other side of the river a passing train was waved down. Paramedics were on scene quickly from Glenwood Springs. We performed CPR continuously until the Paramedics arrived, and they continued to the hospital.
We had first aid kits with CPR masks in pelican cases in all 3 rafts and a large EMT trauma kit in the shuttle bus. Another guide of 6 years, did have to use his river knife to cut the strap off holding his pelican case to the thwart. The strap was a little tangled and it was just faster to slice it. We had already started CPR, but the third guide was bringing a backup first aid kit because he was unclear about what was happening other than CPR being performed.
I have been a guide for 13 years now and accumulated 16,000 river miles. I have been trained in EMT, OEC, and WFR. I was a Beaver Creek Ski Patroller during the 99-00 season. I have current basic 1st aid and CPR instructor cards. In the last 6 years I have certified people in CPR over 125 times. I was trained in Swiftwater Rescue by Les Bechtel.
It is my understanding that the preliminary Coroner report is asphyxia, (drowning) with no evidence of trauma or broken bones, and a negative toxicology screen.
Why this happened we may never know.
Our hearts and thoughts have been with Jason's wife and daughter and the rest of his family.