The Spokane Medical Examiner’s Office has ruled accidental drowning as the cause of death after a woman’s raft capsized Tuesday on the Spokane River near Bowl and Pitcher in Riverside State Park.
Spokane Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer said the woman, whom the medical examiner identified as Deise C. Nagle, was from Colorado and was on a family rafting trip.
David Lawrence, owner of Pangaea River Rafting, said that prior to the outing, guides had split 12 people between two rafts. Two passengers on one of the rafts were caught off balance when the raft hit a current, and they fell into the water, he said.
The passengers who had gone overboard grabbed onto a perimeter rope running around the raft, and the current pushed the boat into a rock and it capsized. The others were thrown into the water and the second raft moved to assist them. A few passengers were able to swim to shore. Nagle floated downstream.
Kyle Murphy, who was visiting the park with family, and Derek Garcia, who was there on a picnic, pulled Nagle from the water and began life-saving efforts. The efforts were unsuccessful, and Nagle was pronounced dead on scene.
Prior to the incident, Lawrence said Pangaea River Rafting, which is based in Montana, had never had a customer drown or become seriously injured in the 13 years they have operated in the Spokane area.
“Our guides did everything they possibly could do and acted exceptionally under the circumstances,” Lawrence said.
He said he can’t comment on any possible changes the company might make after Nagle’s death, but they were reviewing the incident. He added that everyone was wearing approved personal flotation devices and guides had given a safety talk before they entered the water.
“Despite all of the things that were done,” Lawrence said, “an unfortunate accident happened anyway.”
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