Rangers Conduct Snake River Rescue

July 27, 2009
Grand Teton National Park rangers rescued a 72-year-old man from the Snake River at 7:30 on Saturday evening, July 25, after his canoe capsized, spilling both he and his partner into the river approximately two miles south of the Moose Bridge. Jackson Davis and Beverly Horyza, age 67, both residents of Moran, Wyoming, launched their canoe from the Moose Landing about noon on Saturday intending to float 14 river miles to the Wilson Bridge. A river guide conducting a concessioner-operated scenic float trip spotted Horyza about 5:30 p.m. and rescued her. Rangers later located and rescued Davis, who was stranded on an island between the Bourbon Street and main river channels. Neither Davis nor Horyza were injured in the boating accident and both were wearing life jackets.

At about 3 p.m. Saturday, Davis and Horyza hit a log with their canoe while floating in the Bourbon Street channel. The boat capsized and both were thrown into the Snake River. Horyza was able to reach an island in the middle of the river, while Davis was able to flip the canoe over and continue paddling downstream. Davis hit another log, causing the boat to capsize again; this time, Davis floated downstream without his canoe until he could reach the southern end of the same island on which Horyza was stranded. Davis hiked back up river trying to locate Horyza, but the two were on opposite sides of the island and were unable to reunite with one another.

The commercial float guide and his passengers saw Horyza and rescued her from the island; Horyza placed a 911 call to report the accident using the boat guide’s cell phone and Teton Interagency Dispatch Center received a report of the incident at 6:48 p.m.

While in the process of rescuing Horyza, the float guide also saw another capsized canoe with two people in the water and clinging to the craft; he used his river “rescue throw bag,” which contains a coiled length of rope, to reach those people, and was eventually able to pull them aboard his boat. After rescuing Davis and locating Horyza— who had driven her car back to the Moose Landing—park rangers were able reunite the pair at about 9:30 p.m.

The second boating accident was not reported to park personnel. Park visitors are required by law to immediately report any collision, accident, fire or other incident that results in property loss, property damage, personal injury or death. River users are also reminded that it is prohibited to remove or take any abandoned boat or other items from the Snake River.

The Snake is a powerful river with strong currents and cold water temperatures. Due to its tangle of channels and constantly shifting logjams, boaters are advised to have the proper equipment, as well as the knowledge and experience to accurately read the river’s current. For those unfamiliar with the Snake River, a pre-float consultation with rangers is strongly advised.

This marks the third significant search and rescue operation on the Snake River in the last two weeks, and the second in the Bourbon Street channel.