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Discussion Starter #1
I think this topic warrants a new thread, separate from the other one on the recent two deaths at the Numbers.

5 commercial deaths is too much. Way too much.

I think the law says customers assume the risk, but if there are so many death, there's something wrong either with what is communicated to customers about the risk, the section of the river that is run, the skill of the guides, or the law. Can someone do approximate statistics on how much greater the chances are of dieing per hour spent rafting on the Ark compared to per hour spent driving? I bet the ratio is high, like 100 to 1.

I think commercial rafting can be made much safer. The guides probably need to be better (and better paid!), and more safety precautions, such as safety kayakers. Also, perhaps the companies can do a better job of weeding out people from a run on the Numbers who aren't prepared for a tough swim.

I agree with much of what is said below, except for that we can't accept the status quo. The death rate is too high and there are some things that can be done to reduce it.

Whitewater rafting is inherently risky, as anyone with any of these companies will tell you, and any passenger on a commercial trip signs a waiver agreeing that they have understood these risks, although it's hard to explain to people exactly what those risks are. A good analogy is that we all know that driving is inherently dangerous, and most of us think we understand and accept the risks; unless we are involved in a head-on collision, or a rollover after a spinout on ice, we don't have a concrete understanding of how dangerous it can be and the consequences.

What is so hard to predict is exactly what will happen on the river in a crisis situation. Some people have underlying medical problems that show up when they are suddenly immersed in cold water. Some people become paralyzed by fear or shock and cannot take the necessary steps to rescue themselves by swimming to shore. Head injuries can happen even when people wear helmets. Sometimes the boater is on a stretch of river they have run many times before, and end up in trouble for unknown reasons, like the woman who drowned on the Poudre last year.

I don't think there is anything mysterious or weird about this season. More people in boats = more accidents. When you have thousands of people on the Ark, you get more boat flips, and unfortunately more accidents, with a few tragic results.
Yea, some freak accidents happen. And some people with medical conditions who shouldn't be on the river also die. But, this death rate is too high.

I'm really interested in that statistic on how much greater the chances are of dieing per hour spent rafting on the Ark compared to per hour spent driving.

I can probably get a pretty good estimate. How many people raft the Ark each year? Say 250,000? Is the average number of deaths in a year 3? Let's say the average trip is 2 hours long actually on the water moving. That's 3 deaths in 500,000 customer hours, or 1 in 170,000 hours.

The 2001 car mileage death rate of 1.54 fatalities per 100 million vehicle-miles of travel. If we say the average overall speed is 40 mph, that's 1.5 deaths in 2.5 million vehicle hours, or 1 death per 1.7 million vehicle hours.

So the increased death rate of rafting over driving is 10:1. That's not that bad at all. Perhaps 3 deaths per year isn't that bad. But, I still think some simple things can be done to make it safer, and should be done, especially for the tough stretches like the Numbers.
 

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The data or stats that you use are off. I would re-do this post and start over from the 1st sentance. But only if you are looking to correct your overstatements.

Also I would not use any untrue statements like you have to start any argument - but say what you like. If you bend the truth you can make it what you want.

May be a good point but at least do a small bit of research so you dont sound like an ass.
 

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Worth thinking about. As long as outfitters take passengers who can barely swim to start with, are out of shape, and overweight on cold, continuous whitewater, there will continue to be deaths in excess of what there might otherwise be if people were healthier, fitter and approached rafting like kayaking, by building up to harder rivers. But people should be free to choose what they want, it is their live they are endangering, not anyone else's. Guides are paid (poorly) to accept the risk dealing with the rescue of those folks, so I'd exclude them from that category. I guess I don't know that it's really the outfitters' fault when the clients are not fit to self-rescue.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
RDNEK, Why don't you say what stats are off and what statements are untrue? I'm seriously interested in corrections and alternative opinions.

Yea, I knew it would be controversial, but I still think this is a valid topic and my points are credible.
 

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Well for starters it is 4 people by my count from the article on the last "death and doom post" so that is the 1st untruthfull statement that you made.

2nd there has only been one death in the numbers in this incident - not 2 - so that is the 2nd untruth you posted. At least read the information.

I can continue........................................
 

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Discussion Starter #6
RDNEK, yes, please continue.

There were two deaths in this latest incident at the Numbers. One pronounced dead at the scene, another revived after 45 minutes, but died later in the evening. The evening death didn't get in the papers, so they reported only the death at the scene.

I agree with Caspian that the guides care a lot and do the best they can.
 

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RDNEK, Why don't you say what stats are off and what statements are untrue? I'm seriously interested in corrections and alternative opinions.

Yea, I knew it would be controversial, but I still think this is a valid topic and my points are credible.

So now basil I showed my cards - If you feel that I am a full of shit - show me how I am spewing untruths.

It may just be me but if you want your points to be credible do the research and dont just pop off.

Also I am not sayin that your point is not valid. All I am sayin is that your post has more holes than my old bigfoot squirt boat.
 

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The information that I got was from one EMT who responded and they thought that the woman who got cpr for 40 or so min lived - this is what they thought today - this is also what all the published information says.

I cant say if the woman died later. If so my information and posts are wrong. Where did you find out the information about the second woman?
 

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ive been waiting for a post like this to come up....

i think the real problem here is greedy raft guide companies sending down tourists who have NO BUSINESS whatsoever being in a raft.

rafting is a serious, and yes, sometimes deadly sport. thats why we do it. but these tourists from Texas and Oklahoma has little, if any, concept of just how serious it is. Sure, you can give them the "safety" talk, but really all that info is going in one ear and out the other, as you are just holding them up from their raft trip.

These tourists come up and just expect that the guides will see them down safely, regardless of conditions or factors that come into play. Props to all the guides on the river, because I am not attacking you guys. You guys definitely do all you can and thats definitely commendable. My beef is with the companies. I have raft guided several seasons before and I was going to again this year but about April I had a realization: if I see a group of tourists who have no business being in a boat, and I just know something is going to happen, then theres little I can do about it. I cant say "i dont want this boat" and not take it, because the greedy company that i guide for just sees the dollar bills those tourists flash, and thats all they need to see.

lets look at it straight here. Who was the victim? a 52 year old woman from Texas. My surest condolences to the family, friends, and everyone involved, but the question that screams in my mind is: What in the HELL is a 52 year old woman doing in a raft in the NUMBERS? Last time I checked the Numbers was solid class IV, especially when it chundering along at nearly 1,500 cfs. This woman had probably never been rafting before, and if she has, it was probably really limited experience. And did anyone stop her or suggest she shouldnt get on the raft? no. she forked over her $96 bucks or whatever it is in cold hard cash and thats good enough for the guiding company. I believe every raft guide company in the valley has signs saying "the numbers is for experienced rafters only, with the right physical ability and knowledge to get yourself out of a situation". I personally dont believe she was in the right physical condition (nor was the guy with the heart condition earlier....) and I doubt she had proper knowhow to get herself out. bottom line: she should never have been near the raft, or at the very least, not on the numbers, and yet, because she had cold hard cash, nobody did shit about it.

the death on the milk run was a freak accident involving the dam, but so many of these deaths are so preventable and it really is a tragic shame to see when it happens. these families come out and think theyre just invincible on their family vacations, and that they can do anything. its almost poetic justice that something bad happens when you dont use common sense. i took a swim one time in Pine Creek and i barely made it out, and I am a strong swimmer with SWR experience and several seasons on the river under my belt, and it was all i could do to get myself out. And yet every day, how many boats loaded with unsuspecting (and unknowledgeable) clients float down that rapid every day?

so as I said before, Im not attacking the guides. i think the problem lies with the companies, and their inability to say "NO" to certain people when the cold hard cash is being stuck in their face. Private party deaths are always sad too, but those are almost to be expected, because most private boaters know what they are getting into. most of the tourists who float probably have never been rafting before, let alone know proper safety procedures, and yet, lets send a boat of 8 of em down the numbers, and we dont care, because were $300 richer! woo hoo! who cares if someone dies, we got bank!!

thats just my basic opinion on the whole situation. i really am sorry for everything that happened this year, every time someone dies on the river it is a sad day for all. but i think the raft guide companies are the ones to blame here. if they would simply scan their clients and not let them overestimate themselves then I think the number of fatalities would go down.
 

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yetigonecrazy, & others,

I agree w/Yeti. the raft companies could screen & better manage who runs cl. 4 (RG,##). Could AHRA be more interactive w/the companies w/safey requirements besides the waivers?
I have suggested to AHRA that all man-made potentially hazardous structures be removed & made safer.

Also, make all clients dress to swim. i.e. full-wet suits, or shorty farmer-johns. Theses folks are in swim suits & get beat up on the rocks &/or hypothermic. Even if it's low-water-dress to swim. I do.

As for the guide trainee location on Browns'. Could have been taught in Parkdale, by the road! The practice is the same, less hydralics & better access for emergencies.

btw- I hear the raft Co's want to increase their number of rafts on ##'s. AHRA has the beta. More commercial rafters on ##'s could potentially be more dangerous for us all.
jt
 

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Y'all way off base

I feel that the rafting companies have done a great job. The companies hav ethe ability to change trips last minute. I have picked people up for a gore trip and taken them to shoshone. The group of one of the deceased wanted to be on pine creek but the company did not have room on pine creek only numbers. As far as safetey for the companies, it can only go so far. Not only form a money standpoint, but for many reasons. on Dowd chute our shuttle drivers help set safety, oh number 5 is private, thats out. Safety boaters on all class iv trips, sure, if they are available, but only for one boat trips? on all trips? multiple rafts could set safety for eachother, nope private land... you see the problems that occur. I would like to see improved safety talks, possibly more standardized. AHRA and state parks have enough control over the industry. have the companies sttart a marketing war about who is safest. oh and how about being a well informed rafting participant, knowingly and willingly engaging in a dangerous sport. HOW FAR DO YOU WANT IT TO GO? PAD TREES AT THE SKI AREAS OR PAD THE PEOPLE?
 

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Yeah, I get it. Over-regulation is not always the answer. I just see a lot of under-dressed folks in the rafts on ##s.
The raft Co's will do the best they think is necessary.
Ultimately, we are all responsible for our choices in life.
We each take that on, each time we get in our boats.
It's the name of the game.
jt
 

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I know that some of the companies that are considered ' safer' no names mentioned, require wetsuits on class iv or harder, not only for cold, but for protection as well.
 

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I'm always amaized at how few deaths there are each year. If we were in the double digits I'd be worried about safety and such. I think the low numbers reflect on how good and well trained the guides and companies are in Colorado.
 

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Raft guides need to be better paid.

Raft guides need to be better trained. No offense meant to any guides out there but it's what 2-3 weeks of guide training on the water? And a lot of these people have never been in the river before they decide to go to guideschool. I think all guides should be required to have their WFR. I've met guides who didn't know CPR. That is absolutely ridiculous. I've also met a large number of guides with almost no swiftwater rescue training. I have a very high standard for giving the title of "guide" to someone. There are a lot of awesome guides out there but there are also a lot out there who are just sliding by because the shit hasn't hit the fan for them on the river yet.

Companies need to screen customers better. I saw a very overweight father of two die on the Numbers many years ago and he had no place on that river. I think that for safety reasons, companies need to have levels of standard physical fitness for certain trips. Surviving a swim in Brown's is very different than Pine Creek or Gore. America has been shunning this idea of discrimination by fitness for a very long time but I think that in an industry like this, it is necessary for the safety of everyone.

Customers need to be better informed. The safety talk when you are already at the river is too late to deter anyone.

This is a controversial thread but I think it is a good one. Change needs to happen. How many accidents will it take before everyone agrees?

COUNT
 

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I cannot speak for other companies, but I will speak for mine. Our owners have given us guides full refusal rights on any customer on any stretch (including browns canyon and parkdale). And I as a senior guide take my responsibilities very seriously and will talk to customers I think are suspect and make sure they get in a boat with a senior guide if I do decide to take them down the river (often in my boat). So again I cannot speak for all of the companies, just mine, however I believe (especially this year) that no owner would carelessly endanger thier guides and customers for the sake of 100$ since one death can ruin a company both financially and spiritually.

heywood
 

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Okay,
I generally refrain from posting on the buzz, prefering to lurk in the shadows....however the level of misinformation presented in this thread and post has stirred me in to posting.



rafting is a serious, and yes, sometimes deadly sport. thats why we do it. but these tourists from Texas and Oklahoma has little, if any, concept of just how serious it is. Sure, you can give them the "safety" talk, but really all that info is going in one ear and out the other, as you are just holding them up from their raft trip.
seems like a large generalization is going on here. not all tourists are from texas and oklahoma and not all of them are as clueless as you would like to make them out to be. many of the folks in my boat have run sections of river that have been on my hit list for years.


as far as the safety talk. sure it can go in one ear and out the other, but as a person that has given hundreds of them in the past I have to disagree with you. if you have decent communication skills, add some humor, change voice tonality and get memebers of the "audience" involved in the safety talk....they pay attention.
These tourists come up and just expect that the guides will see them down safely, regardless of conditions or factors that come into play. Props to all the guides on the river, because I am not attacking you guys. You guys definitely do all you can and thats definitely commendable. My beef is with the companies. I have raft guided several seasons before and I was going to again this year but about April I had a realization: if I see a group of tourists who have no business being in a boat, and I just know something is going to happen, then theres little I can do about it. I cant say "i dont want this boat" and not take it, because the greedy company that i guide for just sees the dollar bills those tourists flash, and thats all they need to see.
tourists do expect that guides will take them down the river as safely as possible....otherwise they would be private boaters. does your logic apply to other modes of transportation? I expect that airline pilots will see me to my destination regardless of atmospheric conditions or other factors (mechanical, terrorists, etc). I mean I have no business fllying a plane and I certainly don't know how to use a parachute...damn greedy airlines.

And WTF...people are paying for a raft guides judgement. if in your professional judgement you truly feel that your guests are getting in over their head I would think you would feel obligated to take action and suggest an alternate trip. I know I would and further more I know that the company I work for (and I bet most other companies) would fully support my decision that these people would be better off on another stretch of river. I guess that makes me a tourist safety advocate....but that is what guides are paid for. and as far as the company not listening to you....well that never happened did it? you said you just realized that it would, right? I doubt that a company owner would choose a few hundred buicks over the serious likely hood that he would be footing a customers medical or funeral bills.


lets look at it straight here. Who was the victim? a 52 year old woman from Texas. My surest condolences to the family, friends, and everyone involved, but the question that screams in my mind is: What in the HELL is a 52 year old woman doing in a raft in the NUMBERS? Last time I checked the Numbers was solid class IV, especially when it chundering along at nearly 1,500 cfs. This woman had probably never been rafting before, and if she has, it was probably really limited experience. And did anyone stop her or suggest she shouldnt get on the raft? no. she forked over her $96 bucks or whatever it is in cold hard cash and thats good enough for the guiding company. I believe every raft guide company in the valley has signs saying "the numbers is for experienced rafters only, with the right physical ability and knowledge to get yourself out of a situation". I personally dont believe she was in the right physical condition (nor was the guy with the heart condition earlier....) and I doubt she had proper knowhow to get herself out. bottom line: she should never have been near the raft, or at the very least, not on the numbers, and yet, because she had cold hard cash, nobody did shit about it
so, in your years of experience who would you allow on the numbers? I would feel completly safe taking a 52 y/o female down the numbers. I feel that my job is to provide a safe trip on that section of river and be responsible for the safety and enjoyment of my boat... and I accept that every day. In every safety talk I do at the #'s I stress self rescue and make sure that everyone understands that if no one is coming to rescue you that you must swim to shore......you must and they all repesat that and acknowledge that they have to swim. now in the moment of truth I can't sau how they will react...but I think they will swim if properly instructed.

the death on the milk run was a freak accident involving the dam, but so many of these deaths are so preventable and it really is a tragic shame to see when it happens. these families come out and think theyre just invincible on their family vacations, and that they can do anything. its almost poetic justice that something bad happens when you dont use common sense. i took a swim one time in Pine Creek and i barely made it out, and I am a strong swimmer with SWR experience and several seasons on the river under my belt, and it was all i could do to get myself out. And yet every day, how many boats loaded with unsuspecting (and unknowledgeable) clients float down that rapid every day?

how do you propose that these deaths are preventable? and you sound a bit harsh (and that is a severe understatement) saying it is poetic justice...I don't think that anyone loosing their life is justice. And comparing you swimming pine creek to swimming in the #'s at 1500? pine creek is much more conyinouos and has way fewer eddies.

so as I said before, Im not attacking the guides. i think the problem lies with the companies, and their inability to say "NO" to certain people when the cold hard cash is being stuck in their face. Private party deaths are always sad too, but those are almost to be expected, because most private boaters know what they are getting into. most of the tourists who float probably have never been rafting before, let alone know proper safety procedures, and yet, lets send a boat of 8 of em down the numbers, and we dont care, because were $300 richer! woo hoo! who cares if someone dies, we got bank!!

thats just my basic opinion on the whole situation. i really am sorry for everything that happened this year, every time someone dies on the river it is a sad day for all. but i think the raft guide companies are the ones to blame here. if they would simply scan their clients and not let them overestimate themselves then I think the number of fatalities would go down.
people are going to overestimate their abilities. it is human nature. for example a guide that has "several" seasons of rafting making broad sweeping generalizations on the state of the rafting industry in regards to safety, greed, motives and competency.
 

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So the increased death rate of rafting over driving is 10:1. That's not that bad at all. Perhaps 3 deaths per year isn't that bad. But, I still think some simple things can be done to make it safer, and should be done, especially for the tough stretches like the Numbers.
It's a little old, but David Fiore from the Nevada school of medicine wrote an article comparing river deaths to highway deaths -
Injuries Associated With Whitewater Rafting and Kayaking

To sum up: we're all safer on the river.

That being said, as a former guide who has had a guest drown, on one hand there is always something more you can do, and on the other hand the river is a powerful thing and accidents will happen. My condolences to the families and the guides that have been involved in the various incidents this year, and hopefully everyone is boating safe!
 

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Stop beating up on the rafting companies! Everyone that gets on a raft is told of the dangers and asked to assess their ability before they get on the raft the make the choice to put themselves at risk. Because a person doesn't choose to listen or can't assess their ability properly is not the fault of the rafting company.

However it is the responsiblity of the rafting company to do everything in its power to mitigate the risks to those that make the choice to paddle more difficult water. They should require people to wear proper gear (wet suit, helmut). In some cases extremely unfit people should probably be steered to lower difficulty runs.

At the end of the day it is a risky activity and accidents happen. I certainly don't think any company's are recklessly putting people at risk or in any way down misleading people to the risks that exist.
 

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The data or stats that you use are off. I would re-do this post and start over from the 1st sentance. But only if you are looking to correct your overstatements.

Also I would not use any untrue statements like you have to start any argument - but say what you like. If you bend the truth you can make it what you want.

May be a good point but at least do a small bit of research so you dont sound like an ass.
You mean like misspelling "sentence"?
 
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