Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 05-15-2014   #11
yesimapirate's Avatar
Denver-ish, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1999
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 739
Condolences. And great video tribute.

yesimapirate is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 05-17-2014   #12
Tom Martin's Avatar
Flagstaff, Arizona
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 817
We too had the honor of visiting with Billy and Curt and crew at Deer Creek. We in the river running community have an opportunity to learn from Curt’s tragic passing. The following is from the Coconino County Office of Medical Examiners:


“Reported Circumstances of Death On March 18, 2014, at approximately 1700 hours, this 31-year-old man was upside down and unresponsive in a kayak on the Colorado River at river marker 188.7. He was found in an eddy in calm water. The event that led to the kayak flipping over was unwitnessed. The decedent was known to be a highly skilled and experienced kayaker. It was several minutes before one of the decedent’s kayaking companions noticed the upside down kayak and recovered it. His companions tried to resuscitate him, but were ultimately unsuccessful, and he was pronounced dead on the scene. The decedent was said to have consumed tequila at least an hour before he was found unresponsive. His body was airlifted from the scene on March 19, 2014 at approximately 1000 hours.

“Ethanol Intoxication A. Blood alcohol (ethanol) content (BAC) of 0.270% (w/v). B. Vitreous humor ethanol content of 0.298% (w/v). C. Urine ethanol content of 0.347% (w/v)

I spoke with a member of the trip who informed me that while there was some celebratory drinking at Tequila Beach, immediately below Lava Falls, a few of the party, including Curt, continued drinking as they proceeded on below Lava. From a blood alcohol content of 0.20 to 0.29 may cause severe motor impairment and loss of consciousness.

In our review of the events preceding Curt’s death, one thing became clear. We river runners have learned to scout rapids, rig to flip, wash our hands, and any number of other things we do while on the river to increase our safety while in the park. We also noted that when at home and out social drinking, we identify a designated driver. With that in mind, we can only encourage river trips to do the same. The concept of a designated boater during party activities could be introduced by the trip leader and trips could remind each other about this as the trip travels through Grand Canyon, especially the evenings before layovers and above Lava Falls. It is not uncommon to not eat lunch and to become dehydrated on the day river trips run Lava Falls.

In the last two years, there have been two self guided river trip fatalities where alcohol may have been a contributing factor. If you have a better idea of how to be safe while boating in the Grand Canyon, by all means, please bring that concept with you, and share it with your friends. Let us make sure the passing of these two incredible people is not in vain, and we learn from them new safety procedures to make sure this does not happen again.

Respectfully Yours, Tom

Tom Martin
PO Box 30821
Flagstaff, AZ 86003-0821
Hm: 928-556-0742
Mobile: 928-856-9065

Tom Martin is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-19-2014   #13
Old Guy in a PFD
Tucson, Arizona
Paddling Since: 1967
Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 1,022
I make a lot of noise about needing my beer on the river, and how a good camp party starts with booze. This tragic story prompts me to comment.

We always carried lots of beer and would drink while on the river. We joked that one basic guide requirement was to drink and be hairy. For many of our passengers the river trip was their vacation of the year, and they expected us to have one (several)with them. The cardinal rule though was to not get even a buzz until after dinner was done.

So, yes, we sucked up a lot of suds while on the river, something that I don't think most commercial trips would tolerate now. I don't recall a single incident where it was an issue or we had to have a talk with a guide.

On my first Grand Canyon trip, after Lava we celebrated surviving; After Tequila beach the rest of the group got a mile or so ahead of me; in a spurt of "I am a GOD guide", I put up the oars and swore not to touch them until I had consumed all 8 beers provided by a kindly Western River group. Yes, I was most toasty, and I could easily have ended up the same as Curt, but with my group in front of me, not behind.

This tragedy brings it home; enjoy the river experience, but never forget; the river God does not tolerate disrespect and will BITE if you forget.
Schutzie is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-19-2014   #14
Las Vegas, Nevada
Paddling Since: 2013
Join Date: Feb 2014
Posts: 97
Learning From Tragedy

Like the death last year at Racetrack, and the awareness raised about the use of pee buckets and looking out for each other, I hope Curt's passing is not without another lesson to be learned. When we are on a river, we have to look out for each other. We have to be cognizant that we have the lives of others in our hands. Alcohol and other drugs can and do impair our abilities, our judgement and the ability to make correct decisions. In the wilderness, it is basically true that a single mistake will not always be fatal, but if you can compound that first mistake with another, then it typically does not end well.

Here is an interesting read about mistakes and bad luck, from a hiking/backpacking perspective:
The Theory of Mistakes and Bad Luck

I know that during my pre-trip safety briefing that we hold AFTER the Lees Ferry Ranger Orientation, I will speak to the tragedies of Curt and Caitlin and what we need to learn from them to make sure we all get home. I hope everyone takes the time to have these safety talks and refreshes everyone throughout the trip. The 'tribe' needs to look after each other and the other river 'tribes'. Safety has to be the #1 priority on the river. If we are all safe, we will have more fun.

Sorry about the rant.

GCHiker4887 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-19-2014   #15
glenn's Avatar
BZN, Montana
Paddling Since: 2008
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 1,489
If you are getting so fucked up you need a sitter, that should be an exception not a rule. Hopefully you are taking something more enlightening than booze for that kind of scenario. You shouldn't need to pick someone daily to have to watch a group of adults just so they don't die. Getting blackout drunk is dangerous anywhere and if you aren't ok with the risks involved then you shouldn't be doing it in the first place. Same goes for separating from the group.
The sunshine walked beside her
glenn is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-19-2014   #16
Old Guy in a PFD
Tucson, Arizona
Paddling Since: 1967
Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 1,022
I think the point was, we learn from our mistakes, but if we're smart, we also learn from the mistakes of others.

When I found myself on the Grand Canyon alone after Lava and decided to suck up 8 beers rather than touch an oar, it was a very stupid move on my part; telling the story was intended to demonstrate how easy it is to get into a dangerous situation without realizing fully the potential for a bad ending. I survived, cause, you know, the river God likes me, but I wouldn't tempt fate again.

I'm sure if Curt could, he'd be telling us to live it loud, but don't be stupid.
Schutzie is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-19-2014   #17
BEArmstrong's Avatar
Fort Collins, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2004
Join Date: Nov 2009
Posts: 39
I absolutely agree with Tom and others, that if something can be learned from this tragedy, it is to be safe and make good decisions on the river. Curt was not blackout drunk, as some might conclude after reading about the events leading to Curt's death. Curt was most certainly drunk, as were others in our group. But none were so drunk as to be concerning to us (who were sober), who watched them go by minutes before Curt's passing. Everyone appeared to be that good, happy drunk that comes from sharing tequila and whisky on a beautiful day after running Lava Falls. All talking, laughing, and having conversations. No slurred speech, no sloppy paddle strokes. No indication of a dangerous level of drunk that would cause a blackout on the river. If that had been the case we most certainly would had got everyone on shore as it is simple common sense to not be in that state on the water. Curt's BAC was .27 which would mean roughly 9 or 10 drinks. That is certainly alot, but sounds about right based on what I saw out there. And, to put that into a more personal perspective, I have known Curt since we were freshmen in college, and we have both drank far, far more than that on occasion. I say that not because I'm proud of it or to make a point, but more to state my own knowledge that some of us have very high alcohol tolerances and can drink a serious amount of liquor. We have drank together many times in the past, and I have never seen Curt pass out from drinking. On a trip like ours, where we were self-supporting ourselves through the Grand Canyon, we all look out for each other. That is a responsibility that we all share and take very seriously. I just want to reiterate that Curt was not showing signs of a dangerous level of drunkenness, and had he been, we most certainly would have not left him alone on the water. Alcohol almost certainly was a contributing factor in Curt's death, most likely as a trigger for another physical condition that caused him to lose consciousness while in his kayak, and if I could go back in time I wish I could throw all of our liquor into the river. But I hope that from all of this some good can come. Perhaps save all partying for camp. Perhaps be more aware that during a booze cruise type day, that serious consequences can arise that are unforeseen, even if people don't appear that intoxicated. The Grand Canyon is an amazing place, and as Curt said our trip, is a spiritual experience that can bring us back to a simpler, more connected state. We had respect for the river, we had respect and care for each other. We tried to make good decisions, but perhaps we let our guard down a bit and made mistakes. In the end we all lose, as we lost an amazing person from our world. Hopefully these tragic events can be considered in the future, and lead other groups to have fun, meaningful, and safe trips on the Grand and elsewhere.

BEArmstrong is offline   Reply With Quote

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

Similar Threads
Topic Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
News Release: Kayaker Fatality on the Colorado River in Grand Canyon National Park AZJefe Whitewater Kayaking 6 03-22-2014 04:06 AM
Grand Canyon River Fatality Review Tom Martin Boaters Forum | General Boating Topics 52 12-09-2013 09:07 AM
River Fatality in Grand Canyon Tom Martin Whitewater Rafting 10 10-01-2013 06:08 AM
Anyone have info on Clearwater River, Idaho kayak fatality? Bromel Whitewater Kayaking 0 06-01-2004 10:17 AM

» Classified Ads
Aire Tributary

posted by bronzelife

Raft, trailer and all pictured accessories. 2 seats 1...

22 designs outlaw NTN...

posted by goodnoughc

Brand new tele bindings. These are step in free-pivot. Made...

Kokatat Dry Suit small

posted by peg2016

Kokatat dry suit small.Excellent condition with new...

Powered by vBadvanced CMPS v3.2.3

Our Communities

Our communities encompass many different hobbies and interests, but each one is built on friendly, intelligent membership.

» More about our Communities

Automotive Communities

Our Automotive communities encompass many different makes and models. From U.S. domestics to European Saloons.

» More about our Automotive Communities

Marine Communities

Our Marine websites focus on Cruising and Sailing Vessels, including forums and the largest cruising Wiki project on the web today.

» More about our Marine Communities

Copyright 2002-2012 Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 06:36 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2016, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.