River Runners for Wilderness has learned that a double-boat wrap around notorious Big Red (rock) just below Crystal Rapid in Grand Canyon National Park may remain several days, posing a hazard to other river runners.
The accident apparently occurred Friday when one of two 33-foot motorized pontoons on a Western River Expeditions trip lost engine power in the rapid and floated sideways into the rock island. Sometime later an Outdoors Unlimited 18-foot baggage boat lost control in the rapid and flipped, becoming pinned against the wrapped pontoon boat.
Reports are that motorboat passengers spent the night Friday night on their trapped boat and were short-hauled Saturday morning via Park Service helicopter to shore where they remained as of earlier this afternoon. Tentatively, they will re-board another Western boat or their own should it be freed and usable in the next day or two.
Western is launching another motorboat from Lees Ferry in an attempt to remove the trapped boat, although an eyewitness stated that he believed the wrapped boat will be extremely difficult to remove. Removal may require assistance from the National Park Service.
It is unclear at this time whether the stranded passengers will be evacuated out of the canyon by helicopter or will await the arrival of a boat for the completion of their trip.
Although seasonal monsoon rains swelled the Paria and Little Colorado Rivers to extraordinary highs earlier in the week, the main Colorado River flow has been running at normal summertime levels.