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Sunday, September 15, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Outdoors blog

Unusually powerful rivers claim lives across the West

Hikers on the Mist Trail to Vernal Fall in Yosemite are seen Wednesday July 20, 2011. A man and a woman crossed a metal barricade above the 317-foot Vernal Fall on Tuesday, making their way over slick granite to a rock on the edge of the swift Merced River trying to pose for a picture. Instead they burned a horrifying image into the memories of everyone who saw. (Associated Press)
Hikers on the Mist Trail to Vernal Fall in Yosemite are seen Wednesday July 20, 2011. A man and a woman crossed a metal barricade above the 317-foot Vernal Fall on Tuesday, making their way over slick granite to a rock on the edge of the swift Merced River trying to pose for a picture. Instead they burned a horrifying image into the memories of everyone who saw. (Associated Press)

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.




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Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

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