Friday, September 28, 2012

Rafting Guide Arrested in Drowning

A woman drowned on a rafting trip in the Adirondacks yesterday morning, and State Police say her guide was intoxicated.

Rory F. Fay of North Creek, a guide for Hudson River Rafting Company, faces a charge of criminally negligent homicide, a felony, according to state troopers.

Fay was guiding two clients from Columbus, Ohio—Richard J. Clar, 53, and Tamara F. Blake, also 53—on a trip down the Indian and Hudson rivers. Before they made it to the Hudson, Blake and Fay were ejected from the raft, police say. Clar stayed in the raft and steered it to shore.

Fay, who is 37, swam to shore. Fay and Clar walked to Chain Lakes Road in the town of Indian Lake to get help finding Blake. When she could not be found, authorities were notified.

The accident had occurred at 10:20 a.m. State Police say they responded to a call for assistance at noon.

State Police spotted the body from the air in the Hudson River, about five miles downstream.

In a news release, State Police allege that “Rory Fay was intoxicated while transporting Clar and Blake on the rafting trip.”

Fay was arraigned before Indian Lake Town Justice Judy Durken and sent to Hamilton County Jail in lieu of $50,000 bail or $100,000 bond.

Click here to read the State Police news release.

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Phil Brown is the former Editor of Adirondack Explorer, the regional bimonthly with a focus on outdoor recreation and environmental issues, the same topics he writes about here at Adirondack Almanack. Phil is also an energetic outdoorsman whose job and personal interests often find him hiking, canoeing, rock climbing, trail running, and backcountry skiing. He is the author of Adirondack Paddling: 60 Great Flatwater Adventures, which he co-published with the Adirondack Mountain Club, and the editor of Bob Marshall in the Adirondacks, an anthology of Marshall’s writings.Visit Lost Pond Press for more information.

17 Responses

  1. Jeff says:

    What a terrible tragedy. The NYSP report is silent regarding whether the victim was wearing a floatation device (mandatory on commercially guided Hudson Gorge trips).

  2. Richard Carlson says:

    Another in a series of reckless rafting trips run by Pat Cunningham. He should be in jail for sending a drunk guide on the river with two people!
    Pat Cunningham has been running a foul of any sense of quality and safety on his rafting trips for some time.

    He does not participate in the Indian Lake License agreement – using his own private put-in to access the river.

    He has been banned as an official outfitter on the Sacandaga River in Lake Luzerne.

    The Hudson River Rafting Company was involved in a double drowning on The Black River in Watertown in the 1980’s.

    Read some of the reviews on Trip Advisor – absolutely appalling behavior. Any of the good reviews I think were planted.

    Rafting is a Fun and exciting sport all the other companies on the Indian/Hudson do a great job. No one needs to loose a life because of his ignorance and incompetence.

    Ask any of the other rafting company owners their opinion about Pat Cunningham and they will just roll their eyes. Everyone has a story about how horrible his trips are.

    • Peter kick says:

      Hi Richard,
      Can you give me some info on Cunninghams being banned from the Sacandaga? Thanks,peter
      ps…are you a rafting guide too?

  3. Raft Guide's Wife says:

    She was wearing a PFD, as the article above accounts. Condolences to Rick and Tammy’s family.

    • Angry grieving son in law says:

      Raft guides wife, your husband shouldn’t have been drunk when he was taking an innocent, unexperienced mother/sister/grandmother/mother-in- law on a rafting trip down class 3 rapids at 9 am!!! 🙁

  4. Mary Thill says:

    Here’s a link to my June 2011 story on Hudson River Rafting Company’s pattern of under-trained guides, rubber-stamped rookies and unguided customers. I think the background explains a lot about what might have gone wrong Thursday. A lot of guides went on the record with criticism of the company’s practices.

  5. Annee says:

    This is not Hudson’s first attrocities..they have just escalated over the years…Somehow his Guides are ‘Licensed’ yet there training,experiance, and wanton disregard for river etiquette is well known among the Guides.Those who read this know,how many times did we have to deal with the Cunningham Guides and protect our own trips.?This is so sad,my condolences to the family.

    • Snowshoe steve says:

      To become a guide you have to do five trips? How is that documented? Is it with an existing guide? Was Mr. Cunningham the “reference” for Mr. Fay? They start these trips in the morning, he was drunk at 10A.M.? Did he drive there or did someone else from the compnay transport the equipment? No one else at the compnay noticed mr Faywas intoxicated? Seems there is much more investigative work to be done by DEC and State Police.

  6. Laura Smith says:

    I’m really confused as to why they are allowed to operate. Isn’t there any oversight board that licenses the rafting companies? We’ve wanted to do this trip for years & just haven’t been able to fit it in yet. Didn’t realize we need to do careful research in selecting a company as we just assumed they were all liensed! Such a sad unnecessary tragedy. Hope something can be done to stop thiscompany from operating any longer. The owner should be brought up on charges also! Such a tragedy for the families of the two people being guided & the survivor!!!

    • Richard Carlson says:

      That is exactly the case – there are regulations for raft guides but none for the companies that hire them. Pat Cunningham can drown another guest today, and another next weekend. Who will close him down? If he didn’t have his own put-in the Town of Indian Lake would have denied him access long ago just like Brookfield Power did on the Sacandaga River. But he owns the land where he launches his rafts. It’s easy to pick an outfitter for a trip on the Upper Hudson. They’re all good except Pat Cunningham and his Hudson River Rafting Company.

  7. Mike says:

    Alot of questions to be answered.
    This happened at 10:30, where are the other boats?
    Even late in the season, on a Thursday Pat runs more then one boat.
    Other companys had boats on the river too.

    You would have to try pretty hard to clear a raft on the Indian at 3.5 foot, just above the confluence.
    I can’t figure out what they hit?
    Then to leave a guest in the water and walk out?
    (They found her 5 miles down the Hudson, that means she made it all the way through Cedar Ledges, probably caught in the whirlpool at Blue ledges?)

    This makes us all look bad, I harp on the young guides all the time about saftey.
    Granted anything can happen on any given day but, being drunk is just unaccusable.
    I have butterflys in my gut thing about this.
    This is a tragedy, that at this point seems preventable.
    So sad.

  8. ron says:

    Any word yet on the cause of death?

    I was on that river within the last two weeks and can’t figure out where this might have happened and how it would have caused death. They were wearing helmets and life jackets and there is no indication of foot entrapment. She floated five miles downstream? Hypothermia? She was wearing a wet suit. What happened to cause death?

    Something doesn’t make sense about it.

    What a tragedy.

  9. Rusty says:

    From what i’ve heard, there were only 3 boats on the river that day and Pat’s boat was the last boat and alone. Apparently the guy was a 1st year guide, taking a solo boat? This is not a good idea, nobody is an expert in their 1st year, but lots of people think they are! Unfortunately, not too many experienced guides will work for Pat. I’m also curious to hear more about what happened to get a couple people off the raft, musta been down towards the bottom of the indian taking something sideways, prob hitting a rock in a fast spot. The gorge is wilderness and i think most companies and guides respect that they are out there pretty much on their own and are they act responsibly. Hopefully this tragedy doesn’t negatively impact all the great people who do a great job running a great local industry! Oh, and hats off to the guys who worked on the rescue! Wish there was a different outcome, thinking about that 5 miles gives me chills…

  10. Mike says:

    “Apparently the guy was a 1st year guide, taking a solo boat? This is not a good idea, nobody is an expert in their 1st year, but lots of people think they are! Unfortunately.”
    Excellent point, I have taken many grouups down solo but, I’m no first year guide.

    “The gorge is wilderness and i think most companies and guides respect that they are out there pretty much on their own and are they act responsibly.”
    True, drifting along with no one in sight you truly feel the solitude.
    I have found no autopsy reports yet.

  11. One Man's Experience with Hudson River Rafting Company | The … | says:

    […] one of the company’s guides remains jailed on a charge of criminally negligent homicide in the death of a customer who drowned last month, Hudson River Rafting Company and its owner Patrick Cunningham also face a Hamilton […]

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