Karen Pond, of Boise, Idaho, was rowing her friend Mary Jo McNamee’s boat when she struck the downed tree with its ‘rootball’ facing upstream. The strong current flipped the raft upside down and temporarily trapped some of the boaters underneath before they were able to swim away from the craft and get downstream, away from the tree and its branches. Pond and her fellow rafters began their float trip on the Snake River at Deadman’s Bar landing, about seven miles upstream of the accident.
The Triangle X Ranch boatman called Teton Interagency Dispatch Center to report the rafting accident at 3:05 p.m. He helped the five women get aboard his raft and floated them with his onboard guests to the Moose landing where park rangers were able to meet the rafters and determine that none needed medical care.
The blue Tributary raft remained wedged under the tree’s rootball on Friday. Park rangers will attempt to pull it from that position and salvage its contents in the next day or two.
Although Pond had rafting experience on the Hoback River and other area streams, this was her first time on the Snake River. Pond and her four female companions were not wearing life vests at the time of the accident, although they carried jackets with them aboard their watercraft.
Grand Teton National Park’s river rangers express appreciation for the help given by the Triangle X Ranch river guide. Park concessioners are often the first to arrive after a river accident occurs, and their ‘Good Samaritan’ rescues can help boaters who may otherwise be stranded or in need of medical attention before rangers can reach a remote river location.
The Snake is a cold, fast moving river with natural features such as downed trees, logjams, rocks and gravel bars. Avoiding these natural hazards demands attention and skill. All river users are required to carry life vests on board, and are strongly advised to wear these jackets as a first line of safety against drowning.