Mountain Buzz banner

1 - 20 of 33 Posts

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
2,843 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Heard there was a possible drowning on sbc tonight. That is all I doh't know. Anyone have beta? Hoping for thre best...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
185 Posts
SBC

All I've heard: boater under water for 18 minutes....he was with a group that went to get help...he was seperated from his boat after wet escape???? Lets pray!!!!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
67 Posts
I was mountain biking the Walker Ranch trail last night. From a high point, I could see the emergency vehicles approaching. There were flashing lights down in the canyon. It looked like the narrow constriction just below the first Walker Ranch bridge. This one has a tight drop, followed by a big hole. The drop is lined with cliff and steep boulders. Don't know for certain, but that's where the activity was last night around 7:00 or so.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
490 Posts
I was in the group of four that came upon the accident about 10-15 minutes later. The drop was Moist Slot and the rock he was pinned under was about 15 feet downstream, river-right, from the hole created by the slot. I've seen this rapid at 250 and noticed this rock, but at 450 it is quite a bit more turbulence in the water flowing towards it.

The team that was involved in the accident had a rope on the victim when we arrived. 2 members were on the rock, river right, above the victim and 1 member was on the rock river left holding the attached rope.

----I'm going to leave the accident details to the group members because I don't want to screw something up.----

Our group was able to extract the victim only because we had the horsepower. Myself and another member from my party pulled up on the victim from the rock he was trapped under, while 3 people pulled on the rope on the other side of the river. You could not pull the victim out anyway but against the current, upstream. It was a five person effort overall to get him out. His head when we arrived was only a foot underwater, but it may have been deeper before we got there. Both of his hands were out of the water. I don't know the victim's state of consciousness when he reached the point where he was pinned.

Once we pulled him out, people started CPR, but honestly it was way too long after he'd gone under to make any difference. I'm not sure how long he was under, but the 18 minutes in the news story smells like someone picking a number that sounds exact. No one starts a stopwatch in a situation like that. I actually think it was probably longer because upon arriving we were told he'd already been under for 10 minutes and it probably took another 15 minutes after we arrived to get him out. There was no observable pulse when we pulled him from the water. When the paramedics arrived they put an EKG on him and it was flat.

I feel really bad for the team of guys he was with. It sounds like they scouted the drop, had safety setup, and were experienced. The way they described the accident to me, it sounds like they didn't do anything wrong.

Whoever the mountainbiker was that went for help, the officials who showed up said he did a perfect job describing the location -- they said this is a rarity, a lesson for the rest of us. The first ranger showed up only five minutes after we'd pulled the person from the river and dozen more people showed up in the next 15 minutes.

My conclusions/take-aways from the accident, and unfortunately also the one I participated in up on the Poudre three weeks ago, can be summarized in one sentence: when an accident happens and someone is underwater you have at most FIVE minutes to save your friend's life. Make sure you know what to do with in those five minutes and make sure your partners know what to do if it's you. Personally, I'm going to start mentally approaching my harder rapids as if I am by myself. I've had friends help me out of jams before, but I think this is a healthy, realistic approach to contemplating a drop. Don't run it just because you have a bagger on shore. Look at the whole drop and think about some of the scenarios that could play out. A lot of the good boaters I talk to seem to have this figured out already and I'm going to start applying it at my level of boating, too.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
194 Posts
Thoughts and feelings go out to family and the team involved. This is always difficult to take in.
Is the Moist Slot the first significant drop? If so, I have seen someone swim there and their paddle get stuck under the very under-cut rock that is just to the right after the whole. Scary spot.

Schizzle, i agree with you. Sorry again to hear the news...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
335 Posts
I spoke with a member of the deceased's group this morning ,like Schizzle I DON'T WANT TO GIVE ANY MISINFORMATION,BUT HERE GOES;the first two boaters ran the drop with speed to punch the hole ,successfully Mr. MACFARLAND WHO APPARENTLY wasSCOUTING OR SETTING SAFETY,then handed my friend his throw bag and camera and procede to run the drop,he failed to clear the hole and was sucked back in ,i am not clear if he rolled or not but eventually swam into the sieve mentioned by Gary E. ON THE OTHER thread about safety the others in his group immediately got throw ropes to him but he was underwater .The side of the river nearest him was difficult terrain they tried like hell to save him eventually realizing they needed additional help ,my friend went up to the road or bike path and told some bikers to get help ,apparently there was another biker who helped as well,he then sought out SCHIZZLES group for help, with additional help from less frazzled boaters they got him out but it was too late, the authorities responded very quickly.I don't know where the news came up with 18 minutes,like we start a stop watch on rescues,my friends account matches Schizzzles about 1/2 hour.Hope this is accurate BE SAFE
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1 Posts
I was also in the group that came upon the scene after 10-15 minutes. My immediate reaction was that the tragedy had already happened, but we had to do our best even though we were realistic about our chances of a successful rescue. I have basic training in Wilderness First Responder and Swiftwater Rescue, and the others in our group also have rescue skills, training and experience. This was my first serious life threatening rescue, and today I'm thankful that I took the time to get trained before I needed it. I hope my account here is helpful to others who read about accidents as part of their outdoor education process.

The other boaters in the James' party had understandably lost morale. They reported James had been underwater for 10 minutes. He was pinned under the large rock river-right 15 feet down stream below Moist Slot, the first drop after the first bridge below the regular put-in for SBC. Flow was about 475 cfs. His head was visible about a foot below the surface with his hands on top of the water.

Two boaters from James' party were standing on the rock above him. They signaled with a flat hand across the throat, and then made a "Z" in the air requesting a z-drag. I admit at times I wasn't sure if we should be acting in rescue or recovery mode. Schizzle's five minute time limit is well supported, but none of us let that stop us from continuing our efforts. Two boaters from our party ferried across to the rock where James was pinned. They clipped a biner onto his PFD with a 6-7mm throw bag line and threw the other end across the river and upstream to the river-left rescuers. Two of us pulled on the line and James did move a bit, but we were not able to break him free. We felt some small jerks on the line, and we thought we were making some progress, but in fact we were only ripping the sheath off of the line. Lesson 1: A small throw bag line may not withstand the forces required to pull someone out of a sieve. We then spent about 5 minutes working with pulleys, biners and anchors setting up a z-drag. This turned out to be unnecessary. The river-right rescuers also clipped a second line (9mm?) on James and threw that to the river-left rescuers. Then the three river-left rescuers tied grab loops in the small degenerating line and moved to an angle slightly more upstream. With three rescuers pulling on river-left, and two rescuers above James on river-right, the core of the line held and we were able to free him from the sieve. If the core had broken, I'm not sure we wouldn't have had someone else in the hole. This was probably our biggest risk to the rescuers.

We pulled him over to river right on a flat rock just out of the water and began CPR. His face was white, and his pupils were fixed and dilated. After the first rescue breath, we could hear a significant amount of water in his lungs. Three of us rotated CPR positions for about 30 minutes until paramedics arrived. Occasionally someone would wander into the "red zone" with a radio and street shoes. We kindly asked them to move back to a more safe location. The CPR was effective, in that we saw good capillary refill in his face, but of course he was failing to respond. When the paramedics arrived we carried James up to the path on river-left where they put the EKG on him. It was flat.

One of the paramedics was a boater who had successfully pulled his friend out of the same sieve only a year ago. He was very professional and gave James every chance he could. Watching their urgency and professionalism convinced me that we made the right decision to stay in rescue mode, even though we were not successful. Lesson 2: Stay in rescue mode. This seems obvious, but in practice I found it hard to not get discouraged. A friend of mine pointed out that even though we weren't able to save James, perhaps he will be a viable organ donor because of our continued CPR - we may have saved someone else or even several others. Thirty minutes of CPR is not a fun job when it's so clear he won't survive, but it's the right thing to do. Keep up the morale!

The mysterious 18 minute timeframe came from me and another in our party. The paramedic asked us how long he was underwater. We said we didn't know but he wanted us to guess so we pulled the "18 minutes" out of the air. The press didn't make up the number, we did. Of course, none of us knew for sure. When we first arrived on the scene a member of James' party said he had been under for 10 minutes. He had already recognized they needed help, run up to the road and found a mountain biker and then ran back to the scene and found us in that amount of time. It probably wasn't any less than 10 minutes at that time, maybe longer. We don't even know how long it took us to get him out after we arrived. My best guess is that it was another 10 or 15 minutes. I estimate that he was underwater for a total of 20-30 minutes, but time moves in a different direction when someone is dying.

It sounds like everyone did what they could to save James. My heart goes out to the family and friends, especially the three who had to watch tragedy unfold. At some point, when they are ready, I hope they will be able to contribute to the dialog for the safety of others. I have notified Charlie Walbridge from the AW Safety Committee of this thread. For more information about accidents and responses, see the American Whitewater Safety page.

Please remember the ones who care about you when you're making good judgments.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
89 Posts
Thanks for the posts. Very sobering. It helps us think about safety.

I hope the rescuers are doing OK.

One thing I find a little bothersome is that you mention someone was pinned on that rock recently and had a close escape. I wonder if the word about the potential danger of that spot has gotten out before this incident? I for one boated there and didn't know about the danger. I'm scared that it could have been me in that sieve. Should we do better communicating about where danger spots are and how to recognize them? You can't always easily identify under cut rocks.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1 Posts
Sad News

I got a call this morning from another buddy that James was killed on Thursday. Not a good way to start the day.

James was a regular kayaking buddy of mine when he lived here in Reno. We would do the regular weekend drill, meet up every Saturday and Sunday at his place, check flows, and go run something. I've seen a few posts here hinting about his skill level. All I can say is he was a solid IV boater when he lived here, and he was smart enough to walk during off days or or when things were above his level.

I'm not sure what the paddling community is like up on Colorado, and if it was close enough for most of you to have met him. James was a amazingly generous guy. We used to boat with two typically poor college students. When winter started to roll around, he bought each of them brand new drytops so they could boat the winter safely and comfortably.

I'd like to thank his boating group and the folks who came to his aid. From what I read, it sounds like you did all you could. It also sounds like he had a good boating crew the past few years, and some buddies to share good times with.

James is leaving behind an incredible wife, Kris. Please give her condolences if you see her, and boat safely.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
305 Posts
A reply to Stiff's ?.
I know we don't want signs everywhere in the backcountry but...
Like at the ski resorts would it be a bad thing if there were markers to identify spots that were known to be dangerous ie; undercuts ,bad holes, etc... maybe at the put in river map boards like on the Ark. ???

I don't know but in ocean sailing there are channel markers and bouy's to warn you of shallow reefs...

I don't know if markers would have been any help in these incidents luck and timing being what they are but any knowlage is good.

I was never lucky enough to meet James but I would have liked to.
Maybe I'll get to on the Big River.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
490 Posts
I've added a comment to the LSB reach description on the AW site. That site is really helpful for the pics and run descriptions. I know two people who are streamkeepers and they take their job seriously.

Just in case there are some new folks to kayaking reading this, AW is American Whitewater, and they're an organization that supports whitewater enthusiasts. Their site has a link called "River Tools" and it offers run descriptions, flow information, etc. Like anything, the comments in there are just peoples' opinions (and you know what they say about opinions), but it's another source of info outside what you find in CRC2.

URL:

www.americanwhitewater.org
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1 Posts
air tube

I have been there when my friend was pinned and drowned and we were helpless- it is the worst thing anyone can face- my deepests regrets to you involved.

Last week on Fish Creek with Pagel he had a breathing tube. This is a great idea! A 3 foot tube to put down to your buddy or to grab for your own use if you are trapped under the water. I am getting one today. This could buy time and really help a rescue situation. It is always different and always complex but you cannot be too prepared.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
10 Posts
rapid air peeps makes a breathing tube that sounds pretty solid and economical. Has some sort of 2 way mouth piece so you breath fresh air and not your expended air that can be bad for you.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
10 Posts
I'm trying to gather all the facts on this accident for AW and pass on to Charlie. I've run LSB several times and am pretty familiar with it.

I ask any eyewitnesses in James' group or those who helped in the recovery to please send me your email address ([email protected]) and phone number(s), so I can flowup with a few questions.

SCHIZZLE, thank you for posting the warning on LSB river page comments. AW is working to make such warnings more visible on the river page. I lost a personal friend last year on a NY river to a sieve that was actually posted to a river page prior to the accident...she had missed her intended line also.

Someone on this thread mentioned why not put a sign up for such hazards. In short, that is what the river pages attempt to provide. But that is like feeding people fish instead of teaching them to fish. Hidden hazards are all over, especially on creeks, and the river is always changing...this one has just in the last couple of years.

James’ death is sad...nothing will fill his void, but the tragedy is when we don't really use the lessons from his death. If you were a witness or have something of value you would care to share please email me so we can share it with paddlers at large.
Tim Kelley AW Safety Chair
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1 Posts
Any info on family of Jim?

hey all, i used to be lifting buddies with jim in our freshman year in college at CSU (fort collins). we were tight. needless to say, I am deeply sadened by this loss. jim lived life on his own terms, and I always respected him for that.

at any rate, does anyone have an info on him -- his family, so I can contact them? I know his parents lived in Elko, NV, but I can't seem locate anyone to contact.

any help would be appreciated.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1 Posts
Re: Sad News

RenoRob said:
I'm not sure what the paddling community is like up on Colorado, and if it was close enough for most of you to have met him. James was a amazingly generous guy. We used to boat with two typically poor college students. When winter started to roll around, he bought each of them brand new drytops so they could boat the winter safely and comfortably.
As one of the "poor college students" I can say that James’ generosity and good nature kept me warm on more than one trip and I appreciate it to this day. He was ready to boat at the drop of a hat and would always meet you with a grin on his face and a paddle in his hand. His loss is a tragedy and my thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.

Please pass along my condolences to Kris.

-Keane
 
1 - 20 of 33 Posts
Top