Another near tragic accident on the Ark. - Mountain Buzz

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Old 05-29-2008   #1
Snowhere's Avatar
Buena Vista, Colorado
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Another near tragic accident on the Ark.

Seems like a commercially guided duckier was nearly drowned in a strainer?

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Old 05-29-2008   #2
Salida, Colorado
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see for more details.
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Old 05-29-2008   #3
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Buena Vista, Colorado
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Strainer from above. Good reason to carry your knife!

Snagged, then spared
Dramatic rescue at Riverside Park saves Fort Collins woman

By Matt Kroschel - Mail Staff Writer

Arkansas River waves battered Susan Schneider, the tree branch trapping her bobbed dunking her below the surface repeatedly - and although she was aware she could die, she told herself she wouldn't let it happen.

The 51-year-old Fort Collins woman was the subject of a dramatic river rescue in Salida at about 1:25 p.m. Wednesday after the inflatable kayak she was piloting went into low-hanging tree branches about 150 yards south of the lower playhole near the F Street bridge.

"I just kept yelling, trying to get help and kept praying I would survive," Schneider said from her bed at Heart of the Rockies Regional Medical Center Wednesday afternoon.

"We had gotten into our boats not five minutes before this happened," Schneider said.

She was on a commercially guided eight-mile trip down a "moderate" stretch of the Arkansas south of Salida.

She and her husband, Dave Leininger, rafted the Numbers stretch of the Arkansas River north of Buena Vista two days earlier and rented a tandem inflatable kayak Tuesday.

"We are fairly experienced outdoor enthusiasts and have been on the river a lot over the years," Leininger told The Mountain Mail as he stood beside his wife in the hospital emergency room.

Their guide, Caden Buskist, is a longtime kayak instructor and guide for Rocky Mountain Outdoor Center. He was the person who reached Schneider, untangled her, and pulled her hypothermic body from the river.

"All I remember is seeing Caden's knees and feeling him trying to get me unstuck from the tree," Schneider said. "He just kept saying to keep my head above water and 'hang in there,' but I was completely out of energy by then."

Ironically, Chaffee County Sheriff Tim Walker and several of this deputies were eating lunch in Riverside Park and heard calls for help from the river. Response was almost instantaneous.

Buskist climbed onto the branch entangling Schneider and yanked her loose. She said a piece of strap from her clothing somehow became caught in a branch.

After being freed, Schneider was floated downstream where Buskist swam her to the west bank.

Nearly 30 responders from multiple agencies converged upon the scene in less than a minute, eyewitnesses said.

Rescuers used a rope and basket system to carry Schneider from the river up a steep embankment.

She was taken by ambulance to the medical center and admitted with a low oxygen level, low core body temperature and possible water in her lungs.

Schneider was listed in stable condition by 4:30 p.m. By press time Wednesday, hospital officials were unsure when she would be released.

As an aside, Schneider and Leininger celebrated their seventh wedding anniversary Tuesday.

Despite the incident, the couple agreed they will continue to participate in future river activities.

"If they would let me out of here tonight, I would be on the river again tomorrow," Schneider said as she smiled at her husband.

The Arkansas River was flowing about 1,570 cubic feet per second in Salida, down from more than 1,850 cfs last week. Despite steady mountain snowmelt, officials believe flow will increase significantly before its peak sometime in June.

Flood stage on the Arkansas River at Salida is about 7,000 cfs, but hasn't reached that level in many years.

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Old 05-29-2008   #4
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And just downstream of a playhole/wave; Bad spot for wood.

Hopefully there is a chainsaw in that branch's future...

Glad she's alive.
"So in two seconds, away we went, a sliding down the river, and it did seem so good to be free again and all by ourselves on the big river and nobody to bother us." -Mark Twain (The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn)
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Old 05-29-2008   #5
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nice work Caden

Glad the incident happened where it did and so many people were able to jump into action and nice work Caden!

Safe boating this season!
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Old 05-29-2008   #6
Self-Aggrandizing jackass
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The Ranch, Colorado
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Outstanding work, Caden.

If Caden is reading this, for my own education, I'd like to know her summary.

Secondary to that, if Caden could, I'm sure American Whitewater would like to hear a first-hand account (you can go directly to AW's website, find the link for safety, and give an account on the automated form)

Dane Patterson
AW safety correspondent for Colorado

There's a great picture with this story:
"self-aggrandizing jackass" - it says it right on the label
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Old 05-29-2008   #7
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Salida, Colorado
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I was downtown when this went down, although not in my boat. Just for clarification this strainer is not "just downstream of the playhole" it is more like 600 feet downstream and has been there since before we built the lower hole. It is a tree branch that grows out of an elm almost parallel to the river with a branch that comes down into the current at some flows. In my wildwater boat, at lower flows, I usually paddle right under it.

It is going to get cut out now, but I have to say I never really viewed it as a hazard for someone playing in the hole.

Good work Caden. Heroic for sure. Be safe.
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Old 05-29-2008   #8
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Moscow, Idaho
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Yet more evidence that a "hands on" on approach to rescue produces the best results. Kudos to the Caden for understanding that time was of the essence and acting decisively. Be safe as the flows rise folks.
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Old 05-29-2008   #9
Fraser, Colorado
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Cadens the man!

Caden taught me to kayak in Bama,and has been there for me in many a swim.This incident goes to show his professionalism in the sport of kayaking,and how to work under pressure.I am glad the situation turned out like it did,and the lady was lucky to have someone like Caden around.
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Old 05-29-2008   #10
Vail, Colorado
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I second the motion for a chainsaw. Existing hazards should be few and far between. This is a good year to have a hand saw handy.

I also second the kudo to Caden. It is nice to hear a story where a guide's training and experience save a life. The river is a lot to overcome and not many of the stories end up well.
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accident, ark

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