So a few days ago, a jet boat crashed hard in Shovel Creekrapids in Hell’s Canyon. It ejected three people from the boat, and put them all three in the hospital.
There are a couple of very important things to remember here as you consider this story:
- 1. Shovel Creek Rapids is a 20 minute boat ride upstream from the Heller Bar launch, which is in turn a one hour drive from Clarkston, Washington, where the nearest hospital is
- 2. Shovel Creek Rapids is a very big, very turbulent Class II whitewater rapid, with lots of big rocks in it for boats to hit
- 3. There is no cell service in the canyon. If you don’t have a satellite phone, you are on your own until you make it back to at least Heller Bar, but I think you have to go even further out than that.
- 4. You are essentially on your own, or at best at the mercy of the other people in the canyon, when you get into trouble.
The folks involved in the accident saw that the injured people were badly injured, and so they took steps to try and get them help. They considered their options, which were to either load broken, beat up people onto another jet boat and then drive them back down through the whitewater rapids to Heller, then load them in a car and drive them out to Clarkston, all the while praying that they aren’t hurting them worse with all the jostling and rough water and roads; or, to see if they could find a satellite phone, call for help, and wait for a helicopter to come fly them out.
They searched several nearby cabins for satellite phones. In order to gain access to these cabins, the broke out windows and entered the cabins without the owner’s permission. They have every intention of paying for the damage.
It seems that they were unable to locate a satellite phone despite these efforts, and so they took option #1, loaded the injured folks up into another boat, and then drove them out.
The point of this is to discuss the reactions of some of the cabin owners. I can understand that their property was damaged and that would be annoying, but what I can’t understand are the owners who are really pissed about it (some even indicating that they are interested in seeking charges).
So I’ll just go ahead and say it:
Anything that I own or possess is free for any person to use in an emergency where life and limb is threatened. I’m not so worried about a damned pane of glass that I’d be willing to risk the lives of other people to secure it. I can’t even imagine standing amongst firemen and EMTs who have dedicated everything that they have, up to and including their lives, to helping people in emergencies, and then begrudging a person in an emergency a pane of glass.
Not that I’m saying that these people don’t have the right to exclude anyone from their property, or seek redress for damage to it, including criminal punishment for breaking and entering if they so choose – it is their property, after all – I’m just saying that is a pretty damned cold way to operate, and I sure as shit wouldn’t be doing that if I were them.