OUTDOOR HAZARDS -- The deaths of three young tourists who were swept over a 317-foot waterfall last week in Yosemite National Park serve as a reminder of the deadly and alluring beauty of the raging rivers and streams across the West after a record winter snowfall.
States compiling sobering statistics are reporting an increase in water-related deaths, some of which they blame on the surge in river flows.
Around a dozen people have drown in Washington, including a kayaker near Kittitas, a woman rafter on the Wenatchee River-- both wearing appropriate gear and PFDs -- and a teenage girl who capsized a canoe with her brother on the Kettle River. He was wearing a PFD and survived. The girl was not wearing a PFD.
In Montana, at least 10 people have drowned so far this year and another man is missing and presumed drowned after trying to retrieve an oar that fell out of his raft. Only three people drowned in 2010, and Montana officials are warning that the difference is the volume of fast and cold water from the melting snowpack and spring rains.
In Utah, at least 11 people have drowned since April, many of them swept away in fast-flowing rivers swollen by melting snowpack.
In Colorado, five people have died after being swept into Colorado’s raging rivers and creeks.
In Wyoming, at least half a dozen people have died this summer in rivers.