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no tengo
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http://abcnews.go.com/US/story?id=5318195&page=1

Drowned Woman's Body Haunts Rafters
River Too Rough to Recover Her Body, Police Say

GOLD BEACH, Ore., July 6, 2008—

Police say white water rafters going through the tricky Blossom Bar rapids on southern Oregon's Rogue River may see the body of a California woman who drowned there last week but cannot be recovered.

Rescuers say they cannot recover the body of Cynthia Lee Vontungeln, 52, of Irvine, Calif., because of treacherous conditions in the rapids on the Wild and Scenic portion of the river.

Vontungeln and Michelle Shillinglaw, 38, of Austin, Texas, were part of a large guided kayak party floating the 34-mile section from Grave Creek to Foster Bar, deputies said.

Both were wearing lifejackets, but their inflatable kayak hit a rock and capsized as they attempted to pass the Picket Fence set of rocks.

The rapids usually are categorized as a Class 4 on a scale of six, with Class 6 considered too treacherous even for experienced rafters to run.

Shillinglaw survived but Vontungeln became trapped between rocks and drowned. A witness said Vontungeln helped push Shillinglaw to safety before she was overtaken by the current.

A search and rescue team, including helicopters from Jackson County, could not recover the victim.

The Coast Guard will not recover bodies, only live victims, Curry County sheriff's patrol Sgt. John Ward said.

"The only way to get her is by helicopter," he said. "It's a narrow canyon, and it's just too dangerous. We've been in contact with her family, and they understand. They don't want us to risk someone's life," he said.

"There are reports from Paradise Lodge saying people are upset because they see her in the water," Ward said.

The sheriff's office had asked the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers whether water levels could be reduced to aid recovery efforts.

But the corps said water levels would have to be lowered by half, which could endanger boaters in three counties and cause a massive fish kill.

She was the second person to drown in the Blossom Bar area in June.

On June 1, a San Jose, Calif., man drowned while he and another man tried to swim across the river near Paradise Lodge after their raft had drifted away. He was not wearing a lifejacket.

Copyright © 2008 ABC News Internet Ventures
 

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God Amongst Men
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ive heard of floating in eddies with dead cows, hogs, and sheep, and didnt the bible mention a run that had bonus pts for boofing the dead elk? but never seen anything like that, that would be pretty creepy.....

one of those moments where everyone shuts up and paddles a little bit faster

condolences to the family for sure
 

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no tengo
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yeah I don't like it. you would think a team of swiftwater rescuers could do the work. blossom is a class IV in my opinion - wonder if its routine to let commercial duckie custies run it?
 

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...you would think a team of swiftwater rescuers could do the work. blossom is a class IV in my opinion - wonder if its routine to let commercial duckie custies run it?
Yeah, you would think a swiftwater team could do the body recovery... especially if you can see her. I used to guide the Rogue and the company I worked for never let duckies run Blossom or even Mule Creek Canyon. I can only think of one or two companies that let duckies run it. Knowing that other people have drown in the sieve of the picket fence you would think no commercial company would let duckies run it. Tragic.
 

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you would think no commercial company would let duckies run it. Tragic.
and if they do, how about some duckies that don't pop??? i'm picturing these folks paddling kmart-esque inflatables. sad story...
 

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Isn't the Rogue where Orange Torpedos operates/operated paddling Sevylor Tahitis,unreinforced pvc and only semi-selfbailing[one poorly placed drain hole]?That is really sad ,if she helped the other gal she died a heroine.

Earlier this year I was cleaning some wood out of Iliff 'Falls',a manky good sized drop on Cherry Creek that runs about 2 days a year,I pulled a piece of plywood out at the top and this dead Jack Russel terrier dislodged and bounced down the drop and swept away downstream,really freaked me out.No dead people or animals in the river please,makes you think,pretty sad.
 

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God Amongst Men
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cayo-

i need to come down and spend a week sometime with you in denver just running all the urban shit. i dont care about water quality, there is something fun about bashing down man made slides and features that allures to me. ive seen hundreds of fun shit to go off in denver if it had some rain, you've probably got the beta dialed!
 

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Hope it wasn't OTT

Isn't the Rogue where Orange Torpedos operates/operated paddling Sevylor Tahitis,unreinforced pvc and only semi-selfbailing[one poorly placed drain hole]?That is really sad ,if she helped the other gal she died a heroine.
I'm a former guide for OTT, and yes they run all/most of their kayakers through Mule Creek, and will allow good paddlers to go through Blossom. Now I DO NOT know if this company was Orange Torpedo or not, and I will not speculate without more information, but I do know that all of the head guides on the Rogue for OTT would not have allowed anyone to paddle Blossom without full disclosure of consequences and very careful safety monitoring. I personally have walked most or all of our guests on Rogue trips around the top of Blossom.

Since OTT was started in 1969, there have been zero river-related fatalities on any trip they've conducted. That includes the Main/Lower Salmon, the Klamath, and the Grand Canyon.

As for the torpedo's, as we call 'em, they are self-bailing, if you've seen any that have been produced in the last 10 years. True, the material is softer than other IK's, but most of the boats are well cared-for and will go an entire summer (or 2 or 3) without having any problems. They also paddle amazingly well, considering what they look like.

OTT is a great company. I've had issues with the picket fence as well, but nowhere near fatal. My heart goes out to the family as well. This will certainly change how companies run IK's down the Rogue, and elswhere.

Just my opinion, fwiw. -Tyler
 

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It wasn't OTT and it wasn't run in a Tahiti. It was a solid whitewater IK. There are some companies that do not allow duckies through Blossom, Mule Creek Canyon, or even the fishladder at Rainie. Every trip is different and some people come to the Rogue with a lot of whitewater experience and some don't. If the guests are strong paddlers and have the ability to run it then we usually allow them to go and if not then we either put them on gear boats or do the walk. Blossom is around lunchtime on day 3, so there is plenty of time and other rapids to assess the paddlers abilities before this rapid. This woman had whitewater experience and was allowed to run the rapid with another person. What happened is tragic and unfortunate but it was not reckless on the guides to allow that. One of the guides then stuck his boat on the fence to try to rescue the woman but could not pull her free. The crew is extremely torn up about the events that happened that afternoon and will undoubtedly remember that moment forever. My condolences to her family and friends.
Most deaths on the Rogue are victims of no life-jackets or drinking (or both) but this was neither. Sometimes you can follow all the safety procedures but things can still go wrong. Be safe out there everybody
P.S. The womans body was washed out yesterday and recovered by the Sheriff's office.
 

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Just to follow up, this tragic incident was not with Orange Torpedo Trips. They still have their 0 fatalities in their 39 years of business. They make their guests well aware of the circumstances, and they adjust their organization to make the safest trip possible. They have one guide in an inflatable kayak for every 4 guests. They position the first guide in front of the rock where you are to make the cut, making it easier to see where to go in order to avoid the picket fence. There is always a lead guide, and another who follows the group. Therefore, they are in a very good position to help out if a guest does not make the cut. OTT only allows one person per IK because it is easier to rescue one person if they happen to fall out, and an IK is easier to maneuver with a single person. Two people in one IK through a rapid like Blossom Bar is not the safest idea.
With that said, accidents do happen and my thoughts are with the family and the guides. It sounds like the guides did their best to reach her, the circumstances are just very unfortunate.
 

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Interesting to read the comments thread from the post in the linked article at top. "Sad to leave her there" "Unhealthy to leave her there".

The rivers aren't disneyland rides. Sounds like the professionals, and the family, had the correct attitude about this recovery.

I'm sure I'd find it disturbing to paddle through there with a body still lodged, but it sounds like it was absolutely the right call.
 

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ITS GONNA BE BIG!!!!
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She washed out and the body has been taken to a funeral home.
 

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I know this is an old and dead thread, but I wanted to reply. I took a trip with Orange Torpedo back in 2005 I believe. Great trip. Wasn't too keen knowing that many of the guides were drinking (ahem, getting drunk) some nights, and a few getting high, and knowing that they're responsible for my safety, (I was 25 and invited to come along and party with them the last night.) but that aside...

I had my own scary experience on Blossom Bar. Mind you, I've been paddling since I was 14, and had been rafting about 10 times prior. While this was my first time white water kayaking, I was by far the most experienced paddler in our tourist group. So the 12 year old kid goes first down bar, all things go well. Then my dad. Then me. I clearly remember our guide saying that the eddy will carry you to the right, and you'll need to paddle to stay there "not super hard, but put some force behind it."

So that's what I did. From what I can remember, the eddy caught my kayak, dragged me hard to the left, and I instantly knew I was in big trouble. I became wedged between the second set of side by side boulders to the left of the chute. The four larger rocks of the "fence" are directly ahead. The water pressure was so great that it threw me into a standing position (fantastic, great way to get your feet pinned) so that I was literally standing in the front of my kayak, with the back rising out of the water against my back. I had my paddle pinned against a rock, using all my weight to try to hold myself there.

I've never prayed so hard in my life.

I don't know how long I was there. Possibly about 45 seconds? Felt like 10 minutes. Finally I felt the kayak giving way and slipping, and I fell into the boat on my knees (mind you, the seat and all my gear, including one of my shoes, were long gone), I threw all my weight to the right, and by the grace of God my kayak slipped into the water and drifted *just* to the right of the rest of the fence. I furiously paddled the rest of the way down and was pretty happy to be alive, quite honestly.

Later that night at the lodge, the guides were telling me how one of them had hopped out to the closest rock, but had no clue what to do to really help me. I'm not faulting the guides at all - what can you do in that situation? It was honestly just one of those freak things that can happen to anyone - even experienced paddlers who understand current and draft and all that.

I'm just thankful to God that I didn't face the same fate as this poor woman in 2008. Tragic...
 

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I know this is an old and dead thread, but I wanted to reply. I took a trip with Orange Torpedo back in 2005 I believe. Great trip. Wasn't too keen knowing that many of the guides were drinking (ahem, getting drunk) some nights, and a few getting high, and knowing that they're responsible for my safety, (I was 25 and invited to come along and party with them the last night.) but that aside...

I had my own scary experience on Blossom Bar. Mind you, I've been paddling since I was 14, and had been rafting about 10 times prior. While this was my first time white water kayaking, I was by far the most experienced paddler in our tourist group. So the 12 year old kid goes first down bar, all things go well. Then my dad. Then me. I clearly remember our guide saying that the eddy will carry you to the right, and you'll need to paddle to stay there "not super hard, but put some force behind it."

So that's what I did. From what I can remember, the eddy caught my kayak, dragged me hard to the left, and I instantly knew I was in big trouble. I became wedged between the second set of side by side boulders to the left of the chute. The four larger rocks of the "fence" are directly ahead. The water pressure was so great that it threw me into a standing position (fantastic, great way to get your feet pinned) so that I was literally standing in the front of my kayak, with the back rising out of the water against my back. I had my paddle pinned against a rock, using all my weight to try to hold myself there.

I've never prayed so hard in my life.

I don't know how long I was there. Possibly about 45 seconds? Felt like 10 minutes. Finally I felt the kayak giving way and slipping, and I fell into the boat on my knees (mind you, the seat and all my gear, including one of my shoes, were long gone), I threw all my weight to the right, and by the grace of God my kayak slipped into the water and drifted *just* to the right of the rest of the fence. I furiously paddled the rest of the way down and was pretty happy to be alive, quite honestly.

Later that night at the lodge, the guides were telling me how one of them had hopped out to the closest rock, but had no clue what to do to really help me. I'm not faulting the guides at all - what can you do in that situation? It was honestly just one of those freak things that can happen to anyone - even experienced paddlers who understand current and draft and all that.

I'm just thankful to God that I didn't face the same fate as this poor woman in 2008. Tragic...

a simple "condolences to the family" would have been much better.
 

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I know this is an old and dead thread, but I wanted to reply. I took a trip with Orange Torpedo back in 2005 I believe. Great trip. Wasn't too keen knowing that many of the guides were drinking (ahem, getting drunk) some nights, and a few getting high, and knowing that they're responsible for my safety, (I was 25 and invited to come along and party with them the last night.) but that aside...

I had my own scary experience on Blossom Bar. Mind you, I've been paddling since I was 14, and had been rafting about 10 times prior. While this was my first time white water kayaking, I was by far the most experienced paddler in our tourist group. So the 12 year old kid goes first down bar, all things go well. Then my dad. Then me. I clearly remember our guide saying that the eddy will carry you to the right, and you'll need to paddle to stay there "not super hard, but put some force behind it."

So that's what I did. From what I can remember, the eddy caught my kayak, dragged me hard to the left, and I instantly knew I was in big trouble. I became wedged between the second set of side by side boulders to the left of the chute. The four larger rocks of the "fence" are directly ahead. The water pressure was so great that it threw me into a standing position (fantastic, great way to get your feet pinned) so that I was literally standing in the front of my kayak, with the back rising out of the water against my back. I had my paddle pinned against a rock, using all my weight to try to hold myself there.

I've never prayed so hard in my life.

I don't know how long I was there. Possibly about 45 seconds? Felt like 10 minutes. Finally I felt the kayak giving way and slipping, and I fell into the boat on my knees (mind you, the seat and all my gear, including one of my shoes, were long gone), I threw all my weight to the right, and by the grace of God my kayak slipped into the water and drifted *just* to the right of the rest of the fence. I furiously paddled the rest of the way down and was pretty happy to be alive, quite honestly.

Later that night at the lodge, the guides were telling me how one of them had hopped out to the closest rock, but had no clue what to do to really help me. I'm not faulting the guides at all - what can you do in that situation? It was honestly just one of those freak things that can happen to anyone - even experienced paddlers who understand current and draft and all that.

I'm just thankful to God that I didn't face the same fate as this poor woman in 2008. Tragic...
Thanks for sharing your story. Sounds like the guides were cavalier about advising you on how to run BB. That was a close call.

BTW, you have every right to resurrect and comment on any thread you want--don't let a few hand jobs bring you down.
 

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no tengo
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Discussion Starter #17
I've never prayed so hard in my life.

and by the grace of God

I'm just thankful to God that I didn't face the same fate as this poor woman in 2008. Tragic...
I am sorry you had a bad swim but this happens all the time. and there is no god.
 

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Yup. It does happen often. Way to make a dramatic story out of a close call that most whitewater paddlers deal with all the time. Tragic situations can happen at any time in our sport (far less often than on our highways, I might add), and it's pretty sucky to try to make a legitimate company NOT INVOLVED IN THE WOMAN'S DEATH sound sketchy based on your singular "bad experience."

I'm almost sorry I responded.
 

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You would be hard pressed to find a guide service (or private trip) where after river cocktails, beers, and joints are not partaken of usually to a little excess.
 
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