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Whitewater rafting carnage on the Penobscot River

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Published on Sep 26, 2006

November 1993: My friend and I were about to raft the West branch of the Penobscot River in Maine. It was to be her first-ever time rafting. This clip shows the first rapids of the day, a class 5 rapid called Exterminator. I'm in the left front of the raft, and she is directly behind me .... for the first few seconds, anyway. After we went through the Exterminator "stopper hole" (the very beginning of the clip, when the raft briefly disappears), the 3 people behind me, including my friend, went "swimming". She can be seen in closeup, furthest away from the raft, floating backwards into another stopperhole. Phred, our guide, throws out two rescue lines, neither of which reached her ... one did however reach the wife of the guy in the right rear of the raft. He comes up to my corner of the raft and he and I come very close to getting his wife back in the raft, each having one hand under each of her armpits, trying to pull her back in. Then I feel something crushing my right ribcage, and the next thing I know, I'm pulled into the river and am breathing in water. Phred's 2nd rescue line had gotten caught on something upstream, and as it's slack was tightening, it found it's way around the right side of my body, then proceeded to twist the raft around, using my body as it's torque point. Then we see me and the other guy in the water also (I'm the one on the right). The raft then stops moving, followed by Phred reaching behind the raft to cut the rope .... this is how we knew it had gotten caught upstream. A month later I was still having abdominal pain, and x-rays revealed that I'd fractured 2 ribs in this incident.

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