Serious injury today on Blackrock - Mountain Buzz

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Old 06-30-2010   #1
jonny water's Avatar
Geologist, Colorado
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Serious injury today on Blackrock

My friend Steven and I encountered a kayak party below the Narrows today around 2:30 pm with an unconcious person named James. They told me to call 911. They knew rescue breathing. Steven continued downstream to the car and called 911 and encountered the rescue people and signaled for them to continue up the canyon to the scene. I stayed at the scene. I was told that James succesfully navigated the Narrows but flipped in the runnout and did not make his roll and was going down the river upside down. His buddy was able to bulldoze his boat into an eddy soon after the runnout let up. He then must have gotten out of his boat, flipped James upright, encountered him unresponsive and pulled him to shore. Estimated time up-side-down: 5 min.

When I arrived they told me he was breathing and that they had performed rescue breathing. James was breathing but strenuously. We kept him in a semi-alert state until the rescue team arrived. We put him on a boogie board type backboard and attempted to carry him up the talus slope. He started to gain conciousness and was writhing and was fighting us as we attempted to holdi him down...didn't know where he was, couldn't see. It was sketchy and we were told that an air lift was in order and we waited for the cage, then for the back board and neve got a neck brace on. Finally got him on a backboard then in the cage and with a 2:1 advantage pulley system, got him up to the ambulance. The whole thing seemed slow and about 40 min.

I really hope he is ok. He was airlifted to a hospital.

He is upper 40s in age, was with a rather large group, one of which was a nurse and probably from out of town as i noticed Missouri plates on his groups vehicle.

I'm glad we got him out of there.

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Old 06-30-2010   #2
Denver, Colorado
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I'm hope he's OK. I think our group saw them at the blackrock takeout scouting yesterday. Scary and sobering.
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Old 06-30-2010   #3
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good work, glad to hear of first responders. I wish him well.
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Old 06-30-2010   #4
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They were from Arkansas and all solid boaters. I was driving around trying to figure out what to paddle today as I'm visiting CO only this week. I was rather surprised to see a group of folks that I knew from back east, scouting the narrows.

I spoke to one of the members of their group and he invited me to join. Unfortunately, I had just had a large lunch and wasn’t up for boating at that time. I had just ran this section with two locals last night and was fairly familiar with the lines. I offered beta and two out of the 4 in their group began their run. One of their group set a rope at Mr. Bill. The fourth member of their group had already taken out and undressed. The gentleman in question came down first and eddied out above Mr. Bill. The second boater came down with a smooth line and caught the eddy as well. Boater 2 decided to walk the hole while the victim ran the extreme right side. When he went into the second hole, he ran the meatier right side which stalled him. By this time, his friend was in his boat. The victim continued down river for approx 50 yards and attempted to catch and eddy on river right. He bumped a rock and begins to flip and make roll attempts. I yelled to his friend that he was in trouble. He proceeded down river after him. The rope holder had begun his ascent out of the gorge and I yelled to him as well. As I looked downstream, I noticed the victim was attempting rolls, many more than most would before swimming. He literally rolled for 200 yards down the gorge, turning back over each time while being pushed into one hole after another.

By this time, I had made it to the top of the road and ran down where I could get a look. I noticed he was limp, heads down, and still in his boat. I began to run downriver but decided to run back to my car and get a pfd and helmet as I was in civilian clothes. I returned to the car, grabbed my pfd out of the back and quickly put it on. I drove 3-400 yards downstream and jumped out, grabbing my helmet and throwrope. I made my descent down the side of the gorge and into the water’s edge. By this time, the rope holder and the other boater were dragging him to shore. When he came to shore, his head was still in the water. We did a quick check for vitals and found no breathing or pulse. When I initially pulled his head out of the water and opened his airway, I noticed a short (very short) gasp. Gear was immediately cut and removed. Rescue breathing and chest compressions were started while the other boater assisted getting him out of the boat. As I recall, it took about two rounds of compressions and about 6 rescue breaths before he made a heavy gasp and began to breathe on his own.

By this time other boaters were coming down river and we signaled for them to call 911. His breathing eventually became heavier and gurgling. We tried to get him to cough or puke up the water to no avail. He was completely unconscious during this entire time. After several minutes elapsed, his color began to return but his eyes were glossy and rolled back.

A local fire department training in swiftwater just down the gorge was the first to respond. The victim became somewhat conscious, screaming in pain, fighting, and rambling incoherently and exclaiming that he couldnt see. They local fire helped stabilize until we could get a backboard and stokes basket in place. Local fire set up a 2:1 or a variation and helped pull him out of the gorge. A chopper was called and I’m not sure where he landed...or when he took off.

This whole thing seemed to take forever. Thanks to all the kayakers, emergency personnel, and bystanders that helped get him out. I have no idea about his current condition. I'm praying that he pulls through it! I'll try to contact some of those guys tomorrow and post an update. Let’s all keep him in your thoughts and prayers!
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Old 06-30-2010   #5
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As of about 11pm, he was "ok but sketchy for a while" (per boating partner). No other info.
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Old 07-01-2010   #6
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I know we have a few nurses on the board; can anyone guess/explain why he would be conscious but unable to see?
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Old 07-01-2010   #7
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First, nice work by all involved, including the CCFD/SWR guys. I've pulled a commercial boater out of Gore canyon in very similar shape. No breathing, couldn't feel a pulse. Did a round or two of CPR until he started twitching and agonal breathing. Then we loaded him into a raft and continued rescue breathing until the takeout. Met a chopper, he got flown to Denver. He was in the water for less time, but probably in worse shape physically. I had lunch with him a week later and he's now married with a kid!

I'm not exactly sure of the pathophysiology about the conscious unable to see bit, but hypoxia in the brain, especially for an extended time of five + minutes can cause all kinds of brain dysfunctions. Some functions can recover before others. Also, there is a good possibility of a concussion, further complicating the situation. Five minutes is generally considered the amount of time the brain can be hypoxic before becoming fatally injured, but there are all kinds of exceptions, most notably in hypothermic cases (cold water drowning).

All the best, get well soon.
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Old 07-01-2010   #8
dillon, Colorado
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He probably hadn't fully regained a level of consciousness that allowed him to determine if he could or could not see. This could be a result either from head injury or simply from the lack of air for such a long time, both of which could actually result in temporary loss of vision too. Awesome job to those rescuers, its great to hear of a rescue that is successful ...was there a reason/theory as to why the victim did not punch sooner?
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Old 07-01-2010   #9
oh yeah
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wow! great effort from all involved. i was soloing lower clear creek when i heard the ambulances. staying upside down in that creek is no good. i hope the paddler in question pulls through.

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Old 07-01-2010   #10
SYOTR, Tennessee
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Thanks to all of you on the rescue! James is a great guy and would have done the same for you.

Good job to everyone involved and heres to a speedy full recovery
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