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Ronin
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  Quote Ronin Replybullet Topic: Wenatchee River rafting death
    Posted: 04 Jul 2011 at 9:03am

My deepest condolence to the family of Sharon Hughes.  It's been several years since anyone died from whitewater activity on the Wenatchee.  Since it's considered a "play" river, we sometimes underestimate that it can also be a lethal river.  Be careful out there!!! 

The rafting guide must also be heartbroken too, and I feel for him/her.

Woman dies on Wenatchee raft trip

Monday, July 4, 2011

LEAVENWORTH — A 69-year-old Manson woman drowned on a guided rafting trip on the Wenatchee River on Sunday.

Sharon G. Hughes was one of eight people in a raft that hit log jam in the middle of the afternoon. She was trapped under a log when the raft flipped, dumping everybody into the river, according to the Chelan County Sheriff’s Office.

A guide pulled the woman out of the log jam. But she died on the shore despite efforts to revive her with CPR before the arrival of rescuers, who were called at 2:34 p.m.

The trip started near Leavenworth's Wilson Street and the accident took place near Riverbend Drive, also near Leavenworth. There were no other serious injuries.

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  Quote James Replybullet Posted: 05 Jul 2011 at 7:46am
Do we know if this was a commercial trip or a private trip? All the news I have read says "Guided Family Trip" which could mean either. Regardless this is terrible news and my prayers go out to the family and the local paddlers that are dealing with this situation.
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Jed Hawkes
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  Quote Jed Hawkes Replybullet Posted: 05 Jul 2011 at 9:01am
It was definitely a guided trip. Everything flying around out there at this point is just rumors regarding how it all went down. The only information that can be confirmed is that is was related to an entrapment on river left in boulder bend rapid. Hopefully we can keep the speculation to a minimum until a formal accident report has been made.
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  Quote Kendi Replybullet Posted: 05 Jul 2011 at 12:29pm
Yes it was guided by a commercial guide. I know the company. The offical story will be out soon. But yes, it was a log on the left of Boulder Bend.
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  Quote huckin harms Replybullet Posted: 05 Jul 2011 at 1:16pm
The other day, Saturday, Jon and I were doing a lap on the Sky at 8k going up.  We got to the bottom of Boulder Drop to watch a set of rafts come down.  We were not prepared for what we saw.  There was one cat boater setting safety in the eddy below the MercyChute.  Four grey rafts (a couple w/ double oar frames) preceded to go down.  Only one made it thru without losing a customer.  There was one raft that tried the center line at the top, and lost the guide and a customer.   The guide was pulled back into the raft just in time to dump the rest of the crew at Pauls (picketfence).  It was pure mayhem.  More people in the river swimming the holes through the roudiest part of the drop just above Volkswagen and Flypaper rocks.  People recirting, going deep and then over another feature.   It was horrible to stand there and watch.  The poor asian girl who was tossed out at the top of BD swam it all.  Actuallty she wasn't swimming but looked more like drowning. 
There was another raft that got stuck on Flypaper rock with its passengers pushed under the raft as it sat pasted stationary.  Jon and I were totally stunned.  I've never seen such a sh*t show, esp on my own rio.  To their credit (if they deserve any at all)  they cleaned up the mess quickly and moved on before we could give a word.  I am pretty sure I know what outfit it was and wish only that I had video of it to blackmail them do to the absolute ridiculousness of it all.  They aren't local according to what I gathered.  
I am sure there are folks on that trip who were tramuatized and will never get into a raft let alone a river again.  It was quite sad, and would only hope somebody's head will roll given the outcome of that debacle.
I'm not a rafter so I don't know squat about guiding one, but that day those guides on that trip were not doing a good job. 
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  Quote irenen Replybullet Posted: 05 Jul 2011 at 6:00pm
Hey JP,
 
I appreciate your take on this, especially as a river guide and someone with over 20 years experience I think, seriously - I've gotten a lot of your posts over the years, and not just in terms of wordage (although that too. :)
 
Just my two cents here though on your statement that posting about tragedies like this borders on the sensationalist, really I don't think that's the case, at least not what I've gotten as far as the spirit that things have been posted in.  I think it's a natural reaction to commiserate, for one thing, since every one of us has probably been in a situation that could have turned out worse than it did, and also to try to figure out what happened so that it never happens to us and maybe we can prevent it from happening to someone else.  I know talking about stories before all the facts are out could be called 'gossip', but in reality if people are just trying to figure out what happened while offering condolences to the family, how bad is that?  This is partly how we "examine our own practices" - it would be different if people were throwing blame around, but I don't see that.  Anyway, I agree with you on this being a lesson to never underestimate a river - and for all we know, they did everything completely right and things just turned out this way anyway.  Very sad. 
It's all fun and games until someone loses a paddle.
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  Quote Ronin Replybullet Posted: 05 Jul 2011 at 10:46pm
'Since this forum seems to feel the need to regurgitate the very limited information that makes it to press . . .  If the individuals in the Kayaking community can't examine their own practices, posting this kind of stuff is meaningless.'


It seems that “JP” took umbrage to my posting of the newspaper article on the recent Wenatchee River fatality.  I wholehearted agree with others that speculation on what happened is wrong without knowing all the facts and I don’t think anyone on this thread made any such speculation or second-guessed on what happened.

I’m a kayaker, but I sometimes raft.  Since the Wenatchee is a river that I’m very familiar with, my radar always goes off whenever I hear or read about a kayaking or rafting fatality on it.   It’s not a morbid curiosity, but a safety concern.  I strongly believe that a river running injury or fatality can be a teaching or learning moment.  Even though we don’t know the exact facts, the fact that it occurred on a popular section can be a reminder to be vigilant and not let your guard down no matter how many times you’ve run that section of the river. 
 
Since “JP” doesn’t speak for the community or the moderator, I guess we need a consensus on what we should do if we hear or read about a river running fatality.  Should we follow “JP” advice and NOT acknowledge it occurred on this forum, i.e., no posting of any news article or links to it?  
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  Quote tmatlack Replybullet Posted: 06 Jul 2011 at 7:57am
All,
 
I do a lot of commercial rafting...
 
I rafted the Wenatchee with Orion the day  before this accident and all went well.   Orion has a policy that no commercial raft(paying customers) is allowed to go down the left side of Boulder Bend or run the Aghori Hole.  "Playboats" with guides/experienced paddlers can do it, but at 9500 cfs a light boat filled with 1st timers has no business being over there. 
 
Also, on the Sky,  I have been twice with Wave Trek, the guys out of the big boathouse in Index and Bucky, et al,  are  very adept at running Boulder Drop.  There are places where swimming can be fun; Boulder Drop is not one of them. 
 
Also, from the post above, the kayaker poster did not say where the chase boats/kayaks are.  I am 90% certain, all commercial runs down the BD Sky run need chase boats. 
 
Two people recently died at Lochsa Falls on the Lochsa, another river where my ROW raft did spill us all out.  We were back in the raft within minutes, and the lead boat ferried back upriver to pick up a swimmer who climbed out on the rocks. 
 
For me, the drive to the Sky or Wenatchee on US 2 is much more dangerous than rafting with an experienced commerical company.  My deepest sympathy to the victim, her family, the guide, and the guide's company. 
 
Be careful out there and let's all support safe, prudent river running.
 
Tom
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  Quote 1150lbsofaire Replybullet Posted: 06 Jul 2011 at 4:48pm
Vultures!
lookin for a bow cap for a storm
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Kendi
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  Quote Kendi Replybullet Posted: 06 Jul 2011 at 9:24pm
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huckin harms
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  Quote huckin harms Replybullet Posted: 07 Jul 2011 at 9:58am
I will admit to being the occasional vulture. 
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  Quote Jed Hawkes Replybullet Posted: 07 Jul 2011 at 10:50am
Originally posted by irened


 

I know talking about stories before all the facts are out could be called 'gossip', but in reality if people are just trying to figure out what happened while offering condolences to the family, how bad is that?  This is partly how we "examine our own practices" - it would be different if people were throwing blame around, but I don't see that. 


Regardless of our intentions to console people anything beyond "we're sorry for your loss" is speculation. Calling it gossip might cheapen it up a bit, but no one can stand up and say what happened until there is a formal accident report on the the actual events. The newspaper article is bordering on journalistic negligence when it says anything more than there was a death on the river. Just because the Sheriffs office said one thing doesn't mean that's how it went down. Additionally the Sheriffs office is not going to be the investigating body for the accident. The article does not give nearly enough information for any sort of meaningful discussion around the events. Commercial raft guiding has far too many externalities for a six sentence article to adequately describe what happened.

Ultimately my issue is not with the "paddling community" but rather with the media outlets releasing information before a proper report has been made.

I appreciate everyone's eagerness to analyse and learn from the accident but let's not jump the gun on analysis until the company comes forth and presents the information they have compiled.

And Ronin, as far as what we should do when this happens I don't speak for the the "community" but since I consider myself a whitewater professional I would be cautious about posting any newspaper articles that say more than someone died. Posting AW, and insurance company accident reports would be preferred because they have spent enough time to interview all persons involved and cross reference stories to paint an adequate picture of what happened. Unfortunately the facts always become weathered in the aftermath of an event like this one and despite our best efforts we will never know exactly what happened on the river that day despite our best efforts.
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  Quote James Replybullet Posted: 07 Jul 2011 at 11:30am
Just to give some detail to what Jed has put here , In another recent article posted to a different thread. The title reads "Tragedy on the Cooper?"

The Seattle Times (a well known source from what I have heard) reported in this article the following: Missing Kayaker on the Cooper River

They mention in the article that Search and Rescue was conducting the operation on the Cooper River and various other pieces of information that are incorrect. Upon further reading from other sources you will find that the two paddlers put on at the Cooper Bridge on the Cle Elum river, now I understand that is confusing for someone that does not know the area but really if your reporting news you might take the time investigate and not just make big assumptions like that.

So you get articles like this :
Q13 News reports: The body was found in the Cooper River
Renton Reporter: The kayaker went missing in the cooper river along with a nice photo of the Cle Elum river with a caption: Search and Rescue on the Cooper River

I mention this because like Jed says when the News actually comes out it is often 3rd or 4th hand and not very reliable. The police often have poor reporting and not many people spend the time to actually contact the first hand witnesses. Even AW takes the reports from the News then makes official incident reports after investigating but I highly doubt they even contact the 1st hand witnesses. They probably just parse the information available for the most accurate picture possible.

All of this to say, well I am just as guilty for being curious about the event in a manner that is not going to yield any true benefit. Vultures might be accurate or maybe just out of line. JP yanked his post down which is unfortunate because it does have merit aso do many of the posts here. There is value in all this discussion however, the fine line lays when we start getting off the track of actual information needed vs the tid bits we want to know.


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  Quote Force Replybullet Posted: 07 Jul 2011 at 1:22pm
Does anyone know if the logjam mentioned was a natural logjam or placed wood as part of a restoration project?
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  Quote Jed Hawkes Replybullet Posted: 07 Jul 2011 at 8:23pm
Natural wood.
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  Quote Ronin Replybullet Posted: 07 Jul 2011 at 10:50pm
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  Quote AaronS Replybullet Posted: 08 Jul 2011 at 8:23am
Ronin, you'll never be able to account for the perceptions, judgements, opinions of others.  Your intentions are yours...don't let someone else put their issues on you.  I don't know if that is what has happened here; in fact I think it's been a lively discussion with many good points made.  There are many knowledgable and experienced boaters that post on this site, but their knowledge and expeience do not necessarily validate their opinions, on maters such as this, above yours.  They are simply their opinions.  And that's the value of a forum...more and varied opinions and points of view make for a stronger community.  That's MY opinion, anyway.
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  Quote James Replybullet Posted: 08 Jul 2011 at 8:52am
I agree with ya Aaron. And Ronin I did not post that stuff because posting news articles are a bad idea just re-stating what Jed pointed out with a good example. The issue here is that you have a small community of paddlers, many of which are guides in the area where this occurred. The sensitive nature of this issue and the crap they are dealing with is going to make it a very touchy subject to discuss, not to mention attract attention too. In my opinion for the purpose of posting around here there is a big difference between a guy without a PFD that dies because he does not swim or understand the dangers of a river, vs. a death during a commercially guided rafting trip.
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  Quote James Replybullet Posted: 08 Jul 2011 at 8:53am
Oh and again I am not saying that posting news articles on either is a bad idea, just explaining why one is reacted to very differently than the other.
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  Quote UptownJ Replybullet Posted: 10 Jul 2011 at 3:18pm
So very sorry to hear about the death on the Wenatchee.  Never got to see the left side of Boulder Bend as I was instructed to always run river right..... especially when guiding a commercial float. 
I can't imagine how the guide is feeling.... 
 
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  Quote Forrest Replybullet Posted: 11 Jul 2011 at 11:00pm
I just posted a photo from my helmet cam of the tree I believe was involved in the incident.  This was taken about a month prior in that rapid.  http://www.professorpaddle.com/media/photoview.asp?File_Id=6560
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