Life Jackets + Common Sense

     Most of the time wearing a life vest will save your life but sometimes a person needs common sense to go along with it.  Common sense should tell a person to check out the area they will be paddling in if they are unfamiliar with the area.  Common Sense should also tell a person to only paddle in safe conditions.  Common sense should tell you what your abilities are and unfortunately for 12-year-old Veronica McEvoy, the lack of a trusted adult’s common sense cost her her life.  

     According to articles found on the web… Paul Padilla launched a canoe into the Touloume River near California’s Yosemite Park on June 16th just below the Early Intake Powerhouse. At that time the popular rafting river was flowing at nearly 2,500 cubic feet per second and rafting companies hadn’t started their operations on the river yet because it was still too dangerous. The river is a river rafters paradise with many rapids but with the large amount of snowfall, runoff, eddies, whirlpools, and water temperature that was only 54 degrees the river was still off limits. 

     Padilla had paddled a canoe before, but never in a river, and he wasn’t aware of the risks involved with launching above whitewater rapids.  He told deputies he intended to keep the canoe close to the river bank, but it was quickly pulled into the fast current. The canoe struck a rock throwing Padilla, his 6-year old son, his 12-year old daughter, and Veronica from the canoe.  He and his kids made it back to shore, but unfortunately Veronica did not.  For over a month searchers looked for Veronica and finally found her body pinned in the rapids about a mile from where the canoe capsized.  She was wearing a life jacket, but it wasn’t the type normally worn by whitewater rafters and the power of the river was just too much.

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     In this case a proper life jacket may not have saved Veronica but common sense could have.  If Padilla would have checked with a local he would have known the river was not runnable. If he would have contacted an outfitter then he would have learned even they were not going on the river.  Lt. Dan Bressler of the Tuolumne County Sheriff’s Office says, It’s not the organized trips that are the problem, but people going out on their own without the proper equipment or training." One expert said, "In an increasingly urbanized state where more residents grow up with limited contact with the outdoors, some people lack practical sense about rivers." 

     We feel for all of the parties involved in this sad story and understand the pain and sorrow they must feel.  This tragedy may have been avoided with a little common sense, so please, before heading out into the wilderness, educate yourself and use your common sense.