Friday, October 19, 2012

Judge Rules Against Rafting Company

Blue Ledge on Hudson River GorgeA State Supreme Court judge ruled today that Hudson River Rafting Company cannot operate until a final decision is made in a lawsuit filed against the company by the state attorney general’s office.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman sued Hudson River Rafting and its owner, Patrick Cunningham, a few weeks after one of its clients drowned in the Indian River. He accuses the company of running unsafe whitewater excursions, sometimes sending customers on trips without licensed guides or with no guides at all. Click here to read the account of one unhappy customer.

“This company has operated illegally, claimed to provide licensed rafting guides, and said that every precaution would be taken to ensure the safety of rafters. There was a pattern of practices indicating it did none of that, resulting in the recent tragic death of a whitewater rafter. As a result of today’s order, this company is no longer operating,” Schneiderman said in a written statement issued after today’s ruling.

The attorney general is seeking to shut down Hudson River Rafting permanently.

Justice Richard Giardino issued the temporary restraining order after a  short hearing this morning in Fulton County. He scheduled a hearing on the lawsuit for November 8.

For now, the temporary order has little effect since the rafting season is over. The question is whether Hudson River Rafting will be able to operate next year. Cunningham’s attorney says the company does intend to reopen.

Tamara Blake, 53, of Columbus, Ohio, died after she and her guide, Rory Fay, were ejected from their raft on the Indian River on the morning of September 27. State Police say Fay was drunk. He has been charged with criminally negligent homicide. Click here for details.

Meanwhile, Hamilton County District Attorney Marsha Purdue is seeking to reinstate reckless-endangerment charges against Cunningham that date back to 2010. In that case, Cunningham was accused of sending clients on whitewater trips without proper supervision. Click here for details.

Photo by Carl Heilman II: the Hudson River Gorge.


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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.

2 Responses

  1. annee says:

    How can there be no comments?This is sooo sad for both sides of the fence? What are we going to do to do better and/or keep up our standards?
    Can we risk losing our credibility?
    Is anyone[guides] going to the proceedings?Was Cunnignham part of NYSOGA?Was this Guide a NYSOGA member?
    Is this a Guide issue or an Outfitter issue? Or both?
    These are questions I pose to start a discussion…
    There are many new Guides out there…
    They need to bad times and good…

  2. Sven says:

    Not in NYSOGA. He is an outcast in the guiding community.

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