River Fatality in Grand Canyon - Mountain Buzz

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Old 09-27-2013   #1
Tom Martin's Avatar
Flagstaff, Arizona
Join Date: Dec 2004
Posts: 928
River Fatality in Grand Canyon

Hi All, It is with great sadness that I hear of the passing of Mary Simpson. Mary died in a boating incident at 209 Mile Rapid. Mary was a very well-known member of the Flagstaff and Cameron communities, a Grand Canyon hiker and river runner. She will be greatly missed. The following information about the passing of Mary is from a facebook page, along with the NPS release from this morning. Yours in sorrow, tom

To any who haven't yet heard, my mama, Mary Phyl, is gone. She was in the canyon with my father and brother. They flipped the boat. She died of hypothermia before they could get her out. She had emphysema, with the lack of oxygen she didn't have the strength to pull herself out and her body couldn't keep itself warm. She knew it was a risk. She wanted to go anyway. She was in her very favorite place in the world in the arms of the man who has loved her since she was a girl of 13. There is a hole in my heart the size of the Grand Canyon.

From: [email protected] [mailto:[email protected]] On Behalf Of GRCA Public Affairs, NPS
Sent: Friday, September 27, 2013 9:55 AM
To: undisclosed-recipients:
Subject: News Release:Fatality on Colorado River within Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon News Release
Release date: Immediate
Contact(s): Kirby-Lynn Shedlowski
Phone number: 928-638-7958
Date: September 27, 2013
Fatality on Colorado River within Grand Canyon National Park
Grand Canyon, Ariz. – On Wednesday, September 25 at approximately 1:00 p.m., the Grand Canyon Regional Communications Center received a call with a report of a deceased 67 year old female on the Colorado River within Grand Canyon National Park at River Mile 209.
An investigation into the incident is being conducted by the National Park Service in coordination with the Mohave County Medical Examiner and an autopsy is being performed to determine the cause of death. Pending family notifications the identity of the victim is being withheld, once notifications are made the deceased’s identity will be released. No further information is available at this time.

Public Affairs Office
Grand Canyon National Park
Kirby-Lynn Shedlowski

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Old 09-27-2013   #2
prescott, Arizona
Paddling Since: 1982
Join Date: Apr 2008
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so sad.

thanks for the heads up. saw it on the phoenix news but no name or info, only a death on the river.

all of our heart and sympathies go to the family.

bob and deb
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Old 09-28-2013   #3
Worley, Idaho
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Very sorry for her family and friends.
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Old 09-28-2013   #4
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Grand Junction, Colorado
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Thanks for posting, and all the best to you and yours.
-Τὸ χόβερκράφτ μου εἶναι γεμᾶτο χέλια!
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Old 09-28-2013   #5
kikii875's Avatar
Orem, Utah
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It is always sad to hear of a death in the canyon. My condolences to Mary's family. We had just run 209 2 days earlier, and I just found out it was a group we had visited with at Granite, and then helped them at Dubendorf. I didn't meet her, but I just talked with a friend who was on the trip with me and he said that he had a good visit with her at Granite and she was a wonderful lady.
Again, it is sad to lose someone from the river community.
You had me at 'Hey, Row'
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Old 09-28-2013   #6
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at my house, Montana
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Wow, she was on my first grand Canyon trip.
Living in Montana, boating in Idaho
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Old 09-29-2013   #7
Join Date: Sep 2006
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Mary and Robert are wonderful people. Mary did a lot of Grand Canyon hiking.
They were going to be on my 2009 GC trip and when it did not work out for family reasons they decided to met us for a Diamond Down. For some reason that did not work out either but they drove down and delivered a motor and two fresh coolers anyway.

Mary will be missed.
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Old 09-30-2013   #8
cedar city, Utah
Join Date: Mar 2008
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Sounds like someone I would have loved to boat with. Always a hard loss for family and friends.

That said, sounds like she had a great life. Even more so it appear she knew the risk and thought the reward was worth it. Sounds like a great time to honor and celebrate and adventurous spirit who undoubtedly touched the lives of many people.

As I start to age more I value those people who defy the cliches of their ages and take risks and live life to the fullest. My wife just lost her grandmother. A women who took up roller blading at 72 despite everyone telling her about how broken bones don't heal well at that age. We all need more of these vivacious people in our lives.

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Old 09-30-2013   #9
Tom Martin's Avatar
Flagstaff, Arizona
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Hi All, I am grateful to Janet, Mary’s daughter, for writing up the following account of the passing of Mary Simpson. Mary’s husband Robert did some heroic work here and is a very lucky man to have been able to spend 50 years with Mary. While Mary may have known she was not in the best of shape and might not make the trip, the rest of her crew have to carry on after her loss. My sympathies to Mary’s family, friends and especially to her fellow river runners, yours, tom

================================================== =====

I hope that this post will show on my dad's wall and my mom's as well as my own. I want to update folks on how my dad is doing. I think that most of our near and dear know that my mom died of hypothermia when their boat flipped in the Grand Canyon on the next to last day of their trip. Her emphysema had been problematic but not disabling when they had planned this trip last May. By August she had suffered a very significant decline in function. There was no doubt that she was taking a real risk by going, but she had planned and she had packed and she would not be dissuaded from going on what she knew would be her last river trip. My brother was their rower on the trip. They had anticipated that when they got off the mountain and onto the river that the lower elevation would give my mother more energy as it always had before but this time she wasn't able to do any of the day hikes.

When the boat flipped, all three of them grabbed ropes on the boat but my mom did not have the strength to pull herself up. My father was trying to help her but after about fifteen minutes in the water her eyes rolled up and she let go. My father grabbed her and as they both had life vests he was able to keep her head out of the water but he could not get them to shore. She was gone but he could not let her go. Kenny got to shore and frantically tried to get downstream where he hoped my father was still alive. He knew my mom was gone. Where the shore line cut in he did not go around but jumped into the current, trying to catch the eddies to get to the other side, which is insanely dangerous. A boat from another trip picked him up and took him downstream where he found my father and mother, finally ashore. His quote was "I have never been so relieved in my life to see that gray head." I came so profoundly close to losing them all that I cannot help but be extremely grateful to have Kenny and my dad.

So to my dad. The first few days were really rough, but we are so lucky that we all live here in Flagstaff; three kids, six grandkids, all here. We have pulled in tight. We have put silly numbers of people around my dad's kitchen table the last few nights. We did most of our heavy crying on Friday. Yesterday was easier; today my dad and I got out of the house and did the two mile loop of urban trail right above his house. It was just beautiful. Then we took KC and Celeste to Thorpe Park and let them run while we had Macy's coffee. Dad has Kenny and Tiffany, Dominic, KC, Celeste and Grandma in the house. When he needs time for himself, he has a big quiet room, but the house itself is full of life. KC and Celeste are so good, so sweet. It is hard to hold onto pain when they are demanding that life go on.

My mom and dad would have had their fiftieth wedding anniversary October 5th. He has been part of a couple for more than fifty years. He will be finding life anew over the next few years and I think he will come to enjoy the challenge over time. We are working out plans for the service for my mama and will keep you posted.

We are so very grateful for the love and support. It has meant a great, great deal. We are getting our feet underneath ourselves and coming up for air. Thanks for the love, all of you.

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Old 09-30-2013   #10
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Love and light from a fellow river rat...
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