Father and son narrowly miss catastrophe in river tubing accident

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LEAVENWORTH — A 56-year-old man and his 10-year-old son were “extremely lucky to be alive” after a tubing mishap Thursday in which they were swept downstream toward a dangerous bend in the Wenatchee River.

Chelan County Fire District 3 Assistant Chief Glenn Brautaset said the two were “in very grave danger” when they missed their pullout point near Barn Beach in Leavenworth about 4:50 p.m., tumbled off their float tube, and were carried toward the river section called “Boulder Bend” north of Highway 2.

But the father was ultimately able to place his son back on the tube and cling to it in the water , while the swift water carried them to a bank near Alpensee Strasse Avenue where they could climb out on their own.

The rapids had carried them about three-quarters of a mile. They refused any medical treatment, Brautaset said.

But neither was wearing a personal flotation device, he said, and the outcome could have been much worse.

“Basically any area below Barn Beach is extremely dangerous,” Brautaset said Friday. “The rapids start increasing in velocity. … We’ve lost a lot of people in what we call Boulder Bend. It’s one of the most dangerous parts of the river.”

Brautaset said he did not know the home city of the two victims. He said caution is key around the river right now, with high summer waterflow and very strong currents.

A previous accident on the river near Leavenworth had a fatal outcome. Alyson Berman, 65, of Leavenworth drowned June 19 when she fell from her paddleboard near Blackbird Island and became ensnared underwater. A bystander was able to reach Berman and bring her to shore, but not before she lost consciousness.

Berman died Monday in Central Washington Hospital in Wenatchee, after three days in intensive care.