where is the elephant buttress rapid? Is that the double drop about half way through the park?
No, elephant buttress is just below the bridge & climbing area upstream maybe a mile from the park. It's the main event on the run - a continous class IV+ section that I wouldn't want to tube or swim. We were putting on about the time this happened. We saw a lone tube in an eddy right below the Buttress, perhaps one of the party's. I'm not certain, but we talked to a news guy in the parking lot at the takeout and it sounded like it was a swim trunks, no safety gear kind of tuber.
The creek was running about 350 cfs, not 500. I wrote to the 9 news editor complaining about the inaccuracy and sensationalizing of their reporting, but no response.
Anyway, I always look at these events as really sad. The guy probably wasn't a bad person, just ignorant with respect to the risks of whitewater. I guess the lesson is, if you see guys running stuff unprepared, there's no shame in warning them they shouldn't be there.