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Stranded Rafters Rescued, Returned To River To Finish Trip

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avatar Stranded Rafters Rescued, Returned To River To Finish Trip
March 01, 2010 07:11AM
Grand Canyon National Park (AZ)
Stranded Rafters Rescued, Returned To River To Finish Trip

A private boating party stranded near Crystal Rapid was able to continue down the river late Thursday afternoon after being rescued by National Park Service rangers the previous day. At approximately 12:40 p.m. on Wednesday, February 24th, dispatch received a report from the leader of a private river trip that one of his 18-foot rafts was stranded on the rock garden at Crystal Rapid, located just past river mile 98 approximately 11 miles downriver from Phantom Ranch. The party had worked for three hours to free the boat themselves with no success and needed assistance. Aerial reconnaissance confirmed the location of the boat and that its three passengers were unable to get to dry land. Due to the time constraints presented by deteriorating weather conditions, a decision was made not to attempt a water rescue. Instead, the three passengers were lifted by helicopter, one at a time, and transported to shore via a short-haul operation. Once on shore, they were able to join the rest of their party and spend a dry night until weather conditions improved enough to allow rangers to retrieve their boat. On Thursday, additional personnel and equipment were flown to a landing zone near the rapid. After the park’s Zodiac rescue boat was inflated and made ready, rangers motored out to the stranded raft, unloaded the remaining gear, then rocked the boat free of the rock garden. It was then brought to shore to be reunited with its passengers and crew; by 4:30 p.m., they were again on their way down the river. No injuries to passengers or crew were reported. Fourteen park staff participated in this two day rescue and recovery operation, including search and rescue rangers, river rangers, helitack crew members, and helicopter and fixed wing pilots. This rescue and retrieval required extensive coordination of disperse resources and was aided by the availability of the park's fixed wing plane, which retrieved appropriately skilled personnel from temporary assignment in Utah.
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