Along with running, my husband and I enjoy many other outdoor sports, such as rock climbing, kayaking, backpacking, and whitewater rafting. We are a bit of adventure seekers! Anytime we participate in an “extreme sport,” we know there are risks; and no matter how careful and smart you are, fluke accidents can still happen.
In 2009, we experienced just that. During a whitewater rafting trip, I drowned and was resuscitated by my husband. My odds of surviving were less than 1%. By all means, I should be dead. The only explanation I can give is that God saved me. It is a miracle that I am alive today.
The following is my husband’s account of the experience written a few days afterward. He wrote this quickly to inform our friends, so please excuse the quality.
On Monday, September 8th, beth, amy (my sister), and i rafted the Tieton river near Yakima, Washington. This was my third time rafting it within one week. It is rated a class 3 but because of difficulty for rescue, it is a 3+. The water level was 1,700 cfs which is about average for rafting it. there is a diversion dam which has been manufactured so that you can raft over it. we hit it about center right (which is where i had gone over everytime). As we came down and hit the bottom the raft started to shift sideways a bit. we had thought that everything was going to be fine and were starting to clear away from the dam when the raft began to flip. the raft flipped and amy and i came up just down river of it. as soon as i came up, i assesed the situation. i saw that the raft was stuck in a recirculating wave. i saw amy and told her to swim to shore. I was looking for beth and saw her face just before she went under the raft. i realized that she was trapped under the raft and the raft was trapped in the wave. I dropped my paddle and swam up river at an angle so the water would push me to shore. as soon as i reached the shore i ran up river a bit to see what i could do. i wanted to jump in and swim to her but knew from all my training that i would most likely get caught too, or at best end up below her too tired to help with anything. there was a small suspension bridge just above the dam, so i climbed on it and ran across. as i was running i saw a life ring and knew that it would probably have a rope. i jumped down on the landing that had the ring and grabbed it. rope is dangerous in water. it can be a really bad idea to throw to someone in a recircluating wave, but i knew that beth needed to get out for any chance of survival (it had been about 1-2 min by the time i had gotten the life ring). i threw the life ring up river and farther than the raft letting a lot of slack out. i figured the rope would go under the raft and the drag on the lifering would be enough so that no slack would be under the raft. it worked and the rope went under. i pulled tight and soon i felt the rope hit beth’s body. i pulled hard and it released. i didnt know if it just slipped by or broke her free at first but soon i saw beth’s body float out from the raft. she was completely blue/purple and limp, floating face down. amy was just down river on the right side. i told her to swim to beth. she didnt see her at first and then did at the last minute. she jumped in and swam hard to her. once she had gotten to beth, she began to swim to shore. as soon as beth was free, i began running down the river. it took about a quarter of a mile for me to reach them. by the time i got there, amy was just about to the shore. i jumped in the river and took beth from amy. i was able to pull her up on a small rock/clearing on the bank. (the river bank was steep, with lots of brush there). as soon as i got her up enough (her legs were still in the river) i took off her PFD and helmet. her eyes were clowdy and wide open, and her body was blue and limp. i quickly checked for pulse and did not find any. i immediately went into CPR. while this was happening, amy had run up river to a bridge and to the hwy to ask for help. about the fourth to fifth cycle of CPR beth started murmering and weezing, but still no breathing or pulse. i began to attempt to drain the water out of her lungs by rolling her on her side and was able to get a little out. i kept going with CPR and soon her eyes started moving. her jaw locked up (normal during cpr) and body started to twitch and flex in places. i wasn’t able to get breath in while her jaw was locked up but i was able to open her mouth somehow. after about one more cycle, beth began to cough up a little blood and take a breath. she looked at me and kissed me. she wasn’t compeletly there yet and seemed to be out of it a little. i continued to roll her onto her side to drain water. she vomited once. amy and two other guys showed up from the road. (at this point, beth became fully conscious. she doesn’t even remember kissing or vomiting.) one of the guys was a doctor. they helped me get her up the bank through the brush onto a gravel road. a volunteer first responder showed up and began to check her blood pressure, and such. beth continued to cough up a little water. beth started showing signs of hypothermia and we got blankets and jackets over her. about 30-40 min after amy got help, fire and rescue showed up, followed shortly by the medic unit. they got her into the ambulance and we road to memorial hospital in yakima, wa. they began tests and such but everything campe back positive. the only negative was that she still had a little water in her right lung. beth was put into ICU for the night and released from the hospital the next day at about 4:30pm. We arrived home at about 7:30pm.
It was a very scary time for all three of us. For beth, because she began to think this was it. and for the drowning experience… also, she had extremely bad nightmares which is normal for someone coming out of unconsciousness. for amy and i because we thought she was dead. looking into eyes that aren’t there, and at a body that is gone is not fun. i thought that my love of my life was gone.
We thank God for providing so many miracles. He had His hand in it the whole way. Also for amy, who swam hard and got beth to shore. Without that, rescue would have been much longer, or not at all. Thank you for all your prayers. beth is doing great with no brain damage! God is good, and obviously, still has plans for beth’s life.