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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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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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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.
Joe
 

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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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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.

dan
 

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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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Wow, I hope he is OK. I hit my head on the Slate a few weeks ago and broke my helmet and busted my head open through the helmet. He must have hit really hard to get knocked out. My helmet was 13+ years old. After going out and looking at newer helmets, I realized the padding and protection in my helmet was very thin compared to whats out there these days. I was on the fence about spending too much on a new helmet but after my experience and reading this thread, I'm sold.
 

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I'm the one who was in the boat chasing him and first to get to him along with the other person in our group who was on the bank. Redrock438 joined us very quickly after. I'll post an account from my perspective later, still processing it all.
Somewhere in the rapid he took at least one serious hit to the front of his helmet and was limp and blue when we got him out of the water. He is being treated for the head trauma and water inhalation, prognosis is good and he is awake and alert this morning. Thanks to everyone who helped us revive him.
 

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i had a slightly similar physical trama experience... just not in the water... took a 35 table top/step up, took the meat of the knuckle to the left side of my rib cage, took a big bounce.. landed 10 feet down the trany and started sliding by this time i still knew what was going on but i had no ability to breath on my own for quite some time and heres my experience with shock and hypoxia... after about 30 or so seconds of downtime on the trany in agonizing pain i started getting cold fast and it almost felt like everything was turning black from the arms and legs up.. black out( my buddy was right behind me people on the lift stopped him from hitting it, threw his board up on the lip of the step up and ran down. by this time it been good 3 minutes, my bro said i was almost weezing/ choking like breathing and the legs and arms shaking, very unregular he said about at 5 minutes he said i popped up. incoherently i do remember saying "dude bro i'm tripping balls" and thats when i went unconscious again for another couple minutes shaking again, eyes rolled back,totally scaring the people riding the lift, where i regained again. this time i was able to sit up, somewhat confused i knew i just knocked the shit out of myself but ii asked my bro how long i had been out of it he said 10 minutes and to chill and that ski patrol was on the way.. i heard ski patrol and i buggied for some reason straight up stood up took a couple of steps still straped in of coarse and continued down to base full of adrenaline and natural painkillers. by the time i reached the bottom i was in the same condition i started, walking a bit to get to the ol lady to let her know what happened and walked up one of the carpets and passed out at the top, light headed, straight over, my bro had to help me up and to walk the remaining 20 feet to where i knew i fucked some shit up... couple months later ribs are still not 100%... as far as being unconscious i was still conscious in the brain...i remember it was just like a dream some weird and random thoughts but overall it was like coming out of the middle of a super intense boomer trip. oxygen loss is no fun lots of shit happens iim sure the shock of the hit put me into shock and thats the reason for the hallucenagenics but man on man what an experience...

hope you are okey brah... get back out there when you feel like it..

power to the bros that were involved. you guys are fucking awsome!
 

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I'm really sorry to hear about the accident. We met your group out there the other day and everybody was super friendly and psyched to be in Colorado boating. Great job to all involved in the rescue and best of luck on a fast and full recovery.
 

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Vibes to all involved, so good the outcome was much better than it could have been because people were around and on top of it. Hopefully we can all learn from it.

As far as waking up fighting, I had a similar experience to Casper, except I was standing on a 90 foot table top and Tanner Hall caught an edge going off and dropped 40 feet out of the air straight down to flat on the table top on his side. He was out cold for over 1 minute of us slapping him and trying to get him to wake up. When he did, he was literally swinging at us and swearing like you would'nt believe. He did this for 10 minutes till he sort of came to and felt bad for being so combative.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
It is possible that a full-face helmet could have prevented this incident. Anyone paddling class V, especially the mank here in Colorado should do everything they can to get one of these. I, for one, am going to look at one today.

Great to hear that James (Robinson) is recovering. I am hopeful and am praying for you bro! Great job to all involved. I wish we could have made things happen quicker, but nobody was freaking out and everyone was respectful.

Please keep us posted as the situation progresses.

Jon
 

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It's a good thing he wasn't soloing or he'd be dead. I sometimes solo difficult whitewater, but now I'm thinking I should quit that practice. I do feel much more confident bombing a run with a solid crew. I'm glad he was with good peeps. Here's to a speedy recovery.
 

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feedback

Some one on the board asked about the not seeing but being conscious.

Back in 1991 January, I had a similiar river kayaking situation except I was under water for estimated 10 to 15 minutes.

CPR is what brought me back around.

First thing I remember on coming back to life is the pain. Felt exactly like I have heard a heart attack feels in that my chest felt like a football player was stomping on me.

Next I could hear my buds talking and attempted to talk back and tell them I was ok. Shortly thereafter my limbs started working and I was trying to both talk and stand up. My buds said I was talking but words were not complete and I was shaking violently and crawling around.

I finally got up right and started stumbling around not in control.

Finally, I could see and things started working better. I got very arguementative and wanted to get back in my boat. One of my buds finally got in my face and told me to shut up and get in the front of another Bud's solo canoe with deflated air bags and they would take me across the river to a road that ran along the river. I calmed down and did as I was told.

Finally, my Bud Jon Harrison took me too the hospital where they stripped me bare and hooked up oxygen and all sorts of heart and blood pressure monitors. Some time in the AM they got my oxygen percentage in my blood where they wanted it and let me shower and go to sleep just hooking up the oxygen and a heart monitor.

James experience sounds a lot like what happened to me.

The icey cold water helped me a lot according to the doctors.

Looking back coming back to life was a lot harder than going under.

My take is when the brain wakes back it has a sequence of things it can do. The simpler things get working first. Seeing must take a lot more brain power than the other physical things we do.

My heart goes out to James and I am glad he made it.

My thanks go out to those who helped him when he could not help himself.

One of the greatest things about boaters is we look out after each other, no matter what.

Again, thanks guys for taking care of one of our own.
 

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Lazer mentions a hit to the helmet while upside down. Was there any indication that the hit was to the forehead or the face that caused unconciousness, or did it seem like a shot to the helmet only? Any idea what type of helmet he was wearing?

Hopefully a good whitewater helmet can take a big hit without knocking a boater out. I have heard a few stories about boaters getting knocked out when hitting rocks with their helmets. For the sake of safety analysis it would be interesting to know what types of helmets, foam and padding were being worn in these types of accidents. It would also be nice to use some of this data to strive for continuous improvement in helmet energy absorption and dissipation, foaming protection etc. I've noticed a huge variation in the amount of foaming and energy absorption between various helmets.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
He had a noticeable mark between his eyes that was about an inch long and extended up his forehead slightly. He also had at least one tooth knocked out (I saw a tooth in the back of his throat and blood in his mouth) indicating that he took a face shot. I picked up a helmet on shore to shade his face while waiting for emergency personnel and I am assuming that this was his helmet. I am pretty sure it was a camouflage WRSI helmet (not a full-face helmet).
 
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