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Boy Scout drowns in rafting accident

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We are looking at it at this point as a freak accident. This young man was just in the wrong place at the wrong time."


And I imagine the Sr DE arrived at this conclusion after doing a thorough root cause analysis? Bullfeathers!


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"That the "current pulled off" the PFD of the scout however, raises a red flag. "


it sure does. whenever you go whitewater rafting, you are told that your PFD should not come up to your ears, if it does it isn't tight enough. unless he didn't have it tight enough, or it was unsnapped, he shouldn't have had any problem. who is to say he started out wearing one in the first place, or that it was adjusted correctly? i think that this was one of those times that not enough planning was done in advance.


no matter what happened, this is such an unfortunate event. my heart goes out to his family




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Even here in PA. we have seen Lfe jackets pulled off on the Yough. Water can really do alot of things BUT Correctly fitting and putting the PFD on is the Key. I actually lean against a tree or lay down and have the person with me use their foot to push against me and pull the PFD straps tight. If I can breath they may not be tight enough

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  • 2 months later...

I am a bit late to add 2 cents to this posting, however, I am a Scout leader who is also a whitewater professional. This is a clear case of an adult leader who may have had lots of Scouting or Military experience, but little river experience, which was needed in this situation. The dam shown in the newspaper picture is a low water dam, widely known by whitewater boaters and those with swiftwater rescue experience to be a killer. There were no breaks in the dam, which would allow boats to freely go through. The dam creates a powerful symmetric cylindrical hydraulic with a massive backwash which will pull both boats and swimmers again and again, circulating them till they drown. The fact that the life jacket came off the kid also indicates that the jacket was not tightened correctly, but also indicates the power of a big haudralic or hole, some of which can strip the clothes off you. Someone trained correctly would never have taken a boat over this.


Thia is one of the things that I have always been concerned about with scouting. While there is a huge overemphasis in protecting boys from pedophiles, which is sometimes necessary, but rather rare. It stems from the problem that the main office listens too much to the hard core relegious right. Of more concern is the fact that every active Troop of Crew takes out kids into the outdoors on trips at least once a month, as asked for. Most of these folks stay within their experience envelopes, and provide their kids with rather trivial outing experiences, not what is shown in their handbooks. Any adventurous activities are bought from outfitters, including canoeing, rafting, climbing etc.


There is of course a few groups which actually try to do the things that are listed in the handbook other than backpacking. These include climbing, (yes backpacking), skiing, mountaineering, caving, whitewater canoeing, kayaking, caving, vertical caving, and international mountaineering. (All of which my Troop 136 from Laramie, WY has done, and with a perfect safety record).


What is required is knowlegible adult leadership and the willingness of the adults to actually teach the kids the techniques, skills, knowledge and to have them train hard to be more than just a tourist. When you take kids ice and snow climbing - well you have to train them in the skills needed. That means that you must KNOW the skills, and well. Rather than rely on fathers who are reliving their childhood, we have relied on adult experts in the field (none of whom have ever proved to be pedophiles), and we have shown that we can actually do all of the skills and outings mentioned in this thread, including spending the night confortably, and without frostbite in far subzero conditions, and at 14000 feet.


What is needed is advanced training for adult scouters who take their scouts regularly into the outdoors. This includes long courses such as Wilderness First Aid, or better Wilderness First Responder (City first aid and First Aid MB are introductions), Swift Water Rescue (Safety Afloat is a joke), and comprehensive climbing classes - few if any which are offered, or even mentioned by BSA.


There is a real reason why my friends who are Park or Forest Rangers cringe, and get prepared for rescue when a Scout unit enters into their area - Scouters are NOT PREPARED. When I got a permit for my Crew to run Westwater Canyon, the Ranger asked me if we were going to use canoes (?!) - I told her no, that we adults were also professional whitewater guides, and she told me that one scout unit asked that very question!


It is time for Scout Leaders to grow up and learn what they are trying to teach.

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  • 3 months later...

I am sure I will be able to clear up most confusion on this subject, because I myself was there in the raft and lost not only a good friend that day but my best friend. If you want, you may ask me questions and I'll repely to the best of my memory (having responded 6 months after that horrible day.)

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Hi tantheman209,


Thanks for being willing to share. Often times one of the great services that can be done in memory of those lost is to help teach others. Few lessons are as powerful as those born of real experience.


I don't know if you've ever seen accident reports like those in the ACA Safety reports or river anthology, or those in Accidents in North American Mountaineering? If you feel up to it, I'd encourage you to write up the accident honestly and objectively like these... and submit the writeup here and to the American Canoe Association.


Some things to think about including: the experience of the participants (how many trips, on what kind of rivers, etc.); the experience of the leaders (both youth and adult); what gear was being used/available (what kind of rafts, lifejackets, safety/rescue gear, any kayak "safety boaters", etc.); a description of the river and water level; a description of the accident and the rescue response (including both the good and the bad), and any analysis you have. I think you could also help the community a lot by talking about the follow-up after the accident, and how successful that was at supporting you and your friends.


Feel free to drop me a private post if you want some examples to look at or some help getting started.


May the Great Scoutmaster of all Great Scouts be with you and your troop both now and in the future.

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