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Old 06-14-2006   #1
TimWalker's Avatar
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1992
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 205
Rafting Death In Royal Gorge

On 6/9 a commercial rafter died in the Gorge.
RIP and condolences to the family.

And my best to the rafting company in dealing with the situation as this can happen to any rafting company and will happen again. I was a commercial guide for Echo Canyon 1994 - 1997 and we had a death in the Gorge and in the Numbers.

Side Comment Only -
Sometimes I wondered while I was at the launch spots, especially in those years with the 95 and 97 being high water years, if some of the totally out of shape and fat tourists should be rafting and that it was my responsibility to get them down the river safely.[/url]

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Old 06-14-2006   #2
no tengo
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Baytopia, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1876
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Posts: 1,768
man this has been the worst season i can recall in a long time for paddling fatalities. it is somewhat unfortunate that the family does not want an autopsy since i feel it might help us learn from it (cardiac arrest vs. drowning).

all of us here at 4 corners send our deepest regrets to the family, friends, guide and raft co. the guide will be feeling bad even if the client had heart failure. lets remember everyone can flip and swims are part of the deal. i don't think you can totally screen everyone who might not be up for a dip.

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Old 06-14-2006   #3
pnw, Washington
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Could have happened to any company and its too bad it was Echo Canyon. They have always seemed to be a class outfit.
Condolences to the family.
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Old 06-14-2006   #4
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In this bullshit three-ring circus sideshow of freaks, Arkansas
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Great company, great guides, sad situation. This is why rafting the gorge is serious business. Everybody be safe out there, and hug your loved-ones and tell them you love them every chance you get. Cause you just never know.

Best Regards,

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Old 06-14-2006   #5
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The Ranch, Colorado
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Correct me if I'm wrong, but the Gorge temperature, by any standard I know of, was not "very cold" nor even what I'd call "cold"...

I'm merely asking the opinion of the community, with regard to something written in the second Canon City news article.

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Old 06-14-2006   #6
pnw, Washington
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Would probably be considered cold if you were in cotton shorts and tshirt
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Old 06-14-2006   #7
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 254

did the articles or does anyone know where on the run the death occured? sunshine?

the few times i've been down, seems like i always see swimmers and raft carnage there, and as my buddies might point out, sometimes the swimmer is me...
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Old 06-14-2006   #8
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2004
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Posts: 3,097
The article says sledgehammer was the rapid. Bummer.
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Old 06-18-2006   #9
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In this bullshit three-ring circus sideshow of freaks, Arkansas
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The water is cold if you're not used to it.....maybe not sub-arctic but still, for a 50+ year old man from Iowa who probablly rarely goes boating, I'm sure the water down there could be shocking. Especially if he wasn't in great shape (which I have no idea about either way).

The accident was in Sledgehammer. The raft either dumptrucked or flipped in the top hole and the victim swam the entirety of the rapid. Everybody be careful out there! My heart goes out to the friends, family, and guide involved.

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Old 06-19-2006   #10
Master of Chaos
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 73
I too was a guide for Echo in the 90's and worked with Tim, side by side, for a few years and have been managing a rafting company in Steamboat since then. I've been involved, though never on the trip, when company fatalities have occurred. These were the most difficult of times for me and my heart too goes out to everyone at Echo and those who have been dealing with these tragedies this season and in years past.

Every guide and boater, guest included, needs to constantly understand that when one of us has an out of boat experience, there is the opportunity for something very bad to happen. This needs to be discussed as a guide team, as friends and boating partners.

I've tweaked my safety speech over the years to include swimming aggressively back to the raft or to shore instead of only the swift water swimming situation. Getting out of the water as soon as possible, one way or the other, is the utmost goal. I also bring up the worst case scenario and what it will take for in case of a situation gone bad, so that it's clear to everyone the challenges we face. This also sends a strong message that staying in the boat, listening to the guides/leaders on the trip and paddling hard is going to typically keep them in the boat.

Bottom line is that swimmers will happen even with the most experienced guide at the helm so preparation is critical and risk management is the key. Every time we get on the water we must be on it at all times; Staying tight to each other, always looking ahead and behind to our group and discussing "what if" scenarios, on a daily basis, before and after every trip needs to be worked into our river routine and we need to truly take this very seriously.

If one of your friends, staff or clients is not taking the risk as seriously as they should be, then it needs to be driven into them hard. Potentially turning away clients, even at the last minute, or recommending a portage to a lesser skilled friend, or even having a fellow guide sit out a shift if they are not taking it as serious as they should, must always be worked into the assessment of the situation and our days on the river.

Be safe....


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