This spring’s high water might have been exciting for experienced river runners, but it also came with a downside: more accidents.
American Whitewater recently released its Accident Summary report for January-June of 2022, reporting 35 fatalities for all manners of paddling.
“This year’s accident report is a reflection of unusually high water in the Rocky Mountain West,” says AW safety chair Charlie Walbridge. “Of 35 fatalities total in the USA, 16 occurred in Idaho (5), Montana (4), Colorado (4), and Oregon (3). A late spring snowfall combined with high temperatures, and in some cases, rain, led to rapid snowmelt and record floods, including those that washed out the southern entrance to Yellowstone Park.”
Boatwise, Walbridge adds, the paddling community lost five whitewater kayakers, six recreational kayakers, two canoeists, four commercial rafters, 11 private rafters, and two standup paddleboarders. The causes, he adds, included 10 paddlers without a PFD, 10 flush drownings, four deaths at low head dams, four pins at strainers; two rock or sieve pins, and three heart attacks. Ten of those who died, the report states, were under the age of 35; and five were over 65.
Rapid-wise, 12 accidents occurred in Class IV whitewater, and 11 in Class I and II.