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Story-- Glasgow Bridge Accident (Read 19404 times)
08/28/10 at 20:53:00
goldfishgoddess   Ex Member

There are a lot of rumors swirling around regarding an accident I had in Glasgow.  Things like my boat had been smashed to pieces and that Rivermiles had forbidden me to continue.. but I insisted on heading off in a smashed boat to finish the race anyway… as well as stories that I’d been hanging from branches off the Glasgow bridge for hours. 

Cheesy  Horse hockey.   Cheesy

When I talked to Russ last night after the awards ceremony, he asked me to write an account of it here on the forum.  So here you go, Russ.  And for the folks who've been PM'ing me with messages like: "Can't wait to hear what the frick happened to you at Glasgow!" (here you go, Brett).   

Since there are truly people whose boats were destroyed, and truly were people who were stranded for hours in the cold waiting to be rescued, I feel rather silly writing about my accident.  For those who lost their boats, and those who had to be rescued for whatever reason, heartfelt sympathy for your loss.  Things can happen so fast, and it’s a terrible shock. 
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Reply #1 - 08/28/10 at 20:53:38
goldfishgoddess   Ex Member

At 2:30 am early last Wednesday morning, a group of us came into Glasgow: mostly a bunch of very friendly guys from Texas in solo and tandem boats, and me way back at the tail end.  As usual, Glasgow looked really dark and sleepy that time of night.  Circling around to pick a spot to head under the bridge, I swear Scott’s safety meeting video came to mind and remember lining up to enter the span right down the middle, which would be the span closest to the checkpoint so I didn’t have to fight the current from the center.
(I looked online and I think this is where I was...)

All went well as the boat glided under the bridge until it hit the center—at which point, my boat was suddently pulled sideways and backwards towards the huge debris field located on the right concrete support.  I just couldn’t believe it, and it happened in two seconds.  There was no way I could paddle against the current which grabbed my boat, and  then next,  the boat was pulled around to the front of the support and lodged under the branches of a huge strainer with the current roaring around the bridge’s concrete support in front of me.  When I put my paddle in the water to try to push to a more stable position, it was instantly taken and sucked under the boat on its leash.  In this type of dangerous situation, I had little hope at that time of anyone being able to rescue me since it would be too treacherous for anyone to come near,  I figured my best shot was to yell out for help and alert people so they’d know why I disappeared.

After a minute or two, the current got stronger and my boat suddenly flipped and I found myself upside down being pushed backward into the strainer debris field against the concrete support.  I quickly exited the boat and was caught up in the the strong hydraulics under the bridge, which had me doing cartwheels underwater .  I had to swim hard to get my head above water, and remember gasping for breath and being so relieved to have been able to come up from the bottom, and not be caught by the large logs and branches underwater.  I have a waist pack PFD but did not inflate it at the time because I was worred about entanglement with the debris.

Having finally cleared the bridge, the current began sweeping me downriver.  It was so strong that I could feel my clothing being torn off me, so I was trying to swim and keep my pants on, too.  Not so easy.   Roll Eyes

Now free from the bridge,  I decided to inflate my waist PFD “just in case.”  It was the first time I’d ever had to use it, so I wasn’t sure what to expect.    The yellow life-vest type device instantly puffed up and I tried to get my head into the head area, but it was too small for a human head.  So I grabbed the inflated PFD and held it to my chest like a paddleboard while I waved and yelled to the people gathered at the checkpoint.  I saw lights shining on me, and I verified who I was.  The inflated PFD was very bright and I think it made me easier to spot in the dark.  Two of my fellow racers launched out and threw me tow ropes, and somehow they were able to help me get to shore.  To those two guys who managed to fight the current to help me get back on land, heartfelt thanks. I hope you’ll identify yourselves so we know who you are!

As I crawled back on land, my ground crew driver Kerry’s son, Nick,  and his wife met me with a space blanket and helped me get up and walk.  It had all happened so fast and I was disoriented, cold, and a bit in shock from the whole situation.  My original plan had been to get to Glasgow, take some supplies, and shove back off immediately for the next checkpoint.  Had been still feeling fresh and wanting to get as far as I could.

Next,  River Relief launched a boat and they tried to see where my boat was.   And according to someone, they’d tried to bounce their boat and make a large enough wake to dislodge the boat from the branches.  After about ten tries, they had to give up.  I was told that the Army Corps of Engineers might be able to help the next day, since they were in charge of clearing debris and had equipment.  

When the sun came up, I walked down to the launch and heard my boat was still stuck on the support.  When I looked under the span where I’d passed, I saw a tell-tale rip line which those of us who fish in the oceans know .. it’s a sign of a hole, with a hydraulic.  The rip line extended from the debris strainer all the way to the center of the span.  That’s why the debris strainer there was so big— a circulating current under the bridge was bringing things over to it.  

By 9 am that morning, Kerry and I drove to the Army Corps office located in Glasgow, and met with Don Woods, who was the only one on duty at the time.  He said all the Corps staff were away, and said we could follow him to City Hall to talk to everyone there.  I described what had happened to me, and also told him about the rip line I’d seen.  He confirmed there are strong circulating currents there and told me that anything could happen under that bridge with the strength of the currents at that time.  At Glasgow City Hall, the staff decided to call the Glasgow Police and Fire Department.  Almost as soon as the phone receiver went down, we saw the Glascow Police zoom by and so we all headed to the launch to see what could be done.

At the launch, we could see both Steve and Dave from River Relief climbing on top of the huge strainer debris field in front of the bridge support.  Their boat was parked right behind the support.   I was absolutely terrified for their safety, but people told me they were experienced with climbing on things like that  to clear the rivers from garbage.  

The Glasgow Fire Department came over with their rescue boat and squad cars, and talked with Karin from Rivermiles about using the launch for a few minutes.  First we saw Steve and Dave from River Relief get my paddle, and then suddenly, my boat rounded the concrete support on its own, and began floating downstream towards the Glasgow Fire rescue boat.  They grabbed the boat and towed it to the launch.   As we ran over we could see it was in perfect shape, and my deck bag was still there, the cell phone had survived inside a dry bag, and even my two bags of clothing and supplies were still inside the boat.  It was a miracle.

Kerry and I drove off to Bass Pro shops to get a re-arming cylinder for my PFD, as well as new deck lights (which had floated off) and sunglasses (ditto).  

When I came back, Karin asked me if I was going back into the race and I told her YES.  All of us were smiling and elated to have the whole situation resolved so positively.   Getting back in my boat felt like the most normal and happy thing I could do.. and it felt great.  Many of the townspeople from Glasgow were at the launch enjoying the race, and they came up to me and asked what happened.  One older farmer listened, and then advised, “You thank the Good Lord today you are safe!”   Amen.

At the awards ceremony, Karin said some fishermen had found my SPOT tracking unit and gave it to her. I turned on the unit and pushed the button to register my final track.. the finish line at St Charles.  

Thanks to:  Kerry Recker, son Nick and his wife,   the paddlers who helped me get to shore,  Steve, Dave and Vicki from Missouri River Relief, Glasgow launch volunteers,  Don Woods from Army Corps of Engineers, Glasgow City Hall, Fire Department and Police, and the fishermen who found my SPOT..  and Rivermiles staff, especially Karin.

In case anyone's wondering, my boat is a QCC 700x in kevlar layup, yellow deck with black accents, and she's named MIZZOU.  
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Reply #2 - 08/28/10 at 21:20:07
smalltown   Ex Member

For those of us who saw your boat as the sun rose Wednesday morning we have "thanked the Good Lord today that you are safe."  Thank you for sharing and reminding those of us who are still naive to the power of the river.

We are "The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything" and we chose #4302, inspired by Isaiah 43:2 which begins:  "When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you.  When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown!"

Still shaking my head that you were able (physically, mentally, psychologically, and emotionally) to continue racing.  You might consider changing your name to "Relentless."
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Reply #3 - 08/28/10 at 21:23:09
19shady69   Ex Member

I could not have continued. Amazing story. Glad that you are OK!
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Reply #4 - 08/28/10 at 21:48:25
Christine   Ex Member

Thanks for sharing the accurate details of your 2010 MR340 Adventure!  I am so glad your are safe and that your spirit to race prevailed!  Christine
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Reply #5 - 08/29/10 at 02:59:55
MickChick   Ex Member

I'm just glad you are alright!  You're not called Lady Shackleton for no reason, I reckon.  Wink  Based on your text msg, I had no idea how serious the situation was.  I just thought maybe you were keen on a swim for how little fuss you made over it...HOLY CRAP WOMAN!  You nearly drowned!  Remind me to get you some of those cute little arm floaties for your birthday.  Rest well...you deserve it.

Chat soon,
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Reply #6 - 08/29/10 at 07:12:34
goldfishgoddess   Ex Member

Once I got back into my boat, this whole incident was behind me. It wasn't a matter of being relentless, but just returning to something I loved doing which made me feel better.  The only change I made the rest of the race was to stop for 1-2 minutes before each bridge and read the water for rip lines and try to pick spans with no debris fields.  I'm happy to say I did not see any others like Glasgow for the rest of the race.

And I'd like to thank Mom and Dad for taking me to all those swim classes at the YMCA.  

Thanks also to those who saw my little trapped boat and sent good wishes.  It was a happy ending. 

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Reply #7 - 08/29/10 at 16:26:52
Karin   Ex Member

Catrina, I saw you going over your boat when it was hauled back to the ramp.  You looked like you were just starting the race, not recovering from a harrowing accident.  I stepped away for a minute or two for some reason I can't recall, and then looked back to see the ramp empty.  You were off and paddling again!  Your guts and determination are INSPIRING.  Congratulations on a very good race.

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Reply #8 - 08/29/10 at 19:14:32
natecanoes   Ex Member

I almost did the same thing there. The currents were weird, and fast. I aimed for the center and then decided I needed to go thru nearest the checkpoint. Crossing took longer than anticipated, and a quick sprint got me out of trouble. It sure could have been a lot worse. Glad you are alright.
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Reply #9 - 08/29/10 at 20:00:48
West Hansen   Ex Member

You're one tough gal, Catrina. Just the idea of waiting all that time to get moving again would have worn on me. You're ability to take a huge hit like that, put in the time that is needed to recover, then continue on is a testament to your strong character.
P.S. It's a good thing there wasn't a fish involved.
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Reply #10 - 08/29/10 at 20:26:41
ddiebold   Ex Member

Wow, what a story.  It sounds like you kept your wits about you in a dangerous situation.  I'm glad everything turned out alright.
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Reply #11 - 08/29/10 at 21:04:36
petmorph   Ex Member

amazing story, way to keep your head about you.
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Reply #12 - 08/29/10 at 21:10:16
MightyMO   Ex Member

WHEW!!!! So glad you're all right. That river is like a caged tiger just looking for a playmate --- calm, calm, calm, then WHUMP! Glad you had your wits about you and made all the right decisions. You could have easily blamed it all on a 150-pound catfish --- now THAT would catch some headlines!  Grin  Glad you got back to paddling and had a great finish!
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Reply #13 - 08/29/10 at 21:28:42
SandmanUSMC   Ex Member

Double bridge pilings like that are always tricky.  When two bridges are so close like that water rushes between the slots in bridge piers like that and it can be a death trap.  In the day time you can see how nasty it is...especially with debris piled up.  At night it is nothing short of deceptive unless you are intimately familiar with the area.

Hats off to the YMCA and all the other swimming instructors out there.

We are glad you're still with us to paddle another day.


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Reply #14 - 08/30/10 at 06:27:16
rivertrash   Ex Member

two years in a row I've seen you bully your way through adversity and triumph. The only thing you were thinking about this time was how soon could you get back in the water. After all that, your finish was absolutely amazing.

As we were tied up to the downstream end of the driftpile , the boils and recircs were amazing (as they are at most bridges, but especially a double bridge like that). What a washing machine you must have gone through. Another aspect we got a close look at: there was a massive log that underpinned the entire drift pile, and it stuck out, just underwater, about 15 feet from the bridge piling (toward shore). It created a 2 foot drop with a hole on its downstream side. That might have been the root of your problem.

I'm really glad the Glasgow fire department came to help. They were awesome. We could cut the boat free and let it drift down to them without having to haul it over the drift pile or have our boat leave us.

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Reply #15 - 08/30/10 at 09:40:49
RiverReliefVicki   Ex Member

If anybody can do it, the Goldfish Goddess can!
We are proud of you, Catrina.
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Reply #16 - 08/30/10 at 10:47:14
goldfishgoddess   Ex Member

Thanks so much for the kind comments.  My late father always lectured my brother and me: " FINISH WHAT YOU START."
That's great advice, but in this situation my decision to continue was because I didn't want to miss out on the rest of the fun and amazing journey that the MR340 is.  Being back in my boat cheered me up, and it had nothing to do with courage or valor.

Karin, I tried to find you before i launched to say goodbye, but you were gone...  but I want to thank you for your support and also set the record straight that we had no disagreement about my continuing.  The boat was checked over before ok'd for launch.  And I had no injuries.  

Steve-- thanks for everything!  My hero!  And I appreciate the additional info on the site.  I also wonder if it's possible there was a current surge at the time of my accident, because I did see the current around the strainer get much stronger before the boat flipped.  

I want to add a little feedback about swimming in the current/ hydraulics under the bridge:

Do no panic.  Keep your body soft, rather than stiff (don't make like a log!).  Keep your mouth shut when you enter the water and resist the urge to gasp when you first go underwater.  If you are comfortable doing so, open your eyes and orient yourself to the light, which is UP.  Think of the bands of current as rungs in a ladder and pull up with your hands cupped and kick on the currents towards the light.  Be ready to unbuckle your PFD fast if you get caught on anything. I did not deploy my inflatable PFD until swimming past the bridge, due to all the debris and risk of entanglement.  IF I had encountered difficulty moving up against the currents I definitely would have fired it off to give me some upward thrust. 

I was underwater 30 seconds, max.  At no time did I feel I was drowning.  I didn't have to struggle underwater, and never felt I wouldn't make it.  I did however feel like an utter horses *** because that's my first capsize in 5 years, and I was very upset at the thought of my boat possibly being permanently trapped in the debris.

Hopefully the information here will help prevent someone from getting into this situation, or will help someone who must self-rescue in a difficult current.

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Reply #17 - 08/30/10 at 12:48:38
jpbisonette   Ex Member

Catrina-- My partner and I (mens tandem 0481-white wenonah 2) we're getting ready to push off when a Solo Kayaker yelled that you were in the water.  We thought that you were still up by the bridge but then saw you float passed. We along with the solo boat went out to you and tossed our throw bag, and paddled you back.  Once to shore, my partner and his dad pulled you to shore and started talking to you. Where others were able to get the space blanket on you. 
We were pretty nervous for you. I told the guy in the safety vest that you seemed a little shocky at the moment.

Glad you made it and see you next year.

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Reply #18 - 08/30/10 at 13:05:22
goldfishgoddess   Ex Member

Catrina-- My partner and I (mens tandem 0481-white wenonah 2) we're getting ready to push off when a Solo Kayaker yelled that you were in the water.  We thought that you were still up by the bridge but then saw you float passed.

Jason, THANK YOU SO MUCH for your generous help, and your partner, too.  I can't tell you how much I appreciated that!  The guy in the solo boat, I believe it was dark red.  I remember he threw me a tow line.

I remember getting a little stressed out with the tow lines.. you probably didn't realize I was having to hold my PFD under me because the head hole was too small for a person to put their head into it.  So you were towing me with my one free arm, and I remember having trouble balancing holding the PFD and the tow line in the currents and feeling like I might flip. 

The whole situation happened so fast, I do feel for a few minutes I was going into shock and felt very cold.  It was devastating to lose my boat and not know if it could be recovered, too. 

Thanks for your important contribution to the happy ending in this accident.  Again, heartfelt thanks and see you next year!

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Reply #19 - 09/05/10 at 11:19:17
drydune   Ex Member

I believe this is a picture of your boat being rescued that morning.  My sister Lara on our ground crew took this photo.

Team Schmidt

Glascow.JPG (Attachment deleted)
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