Whitewater Rescues

Whitewater Rescues


True Stories of Survival, Bravery, and Quick Thinking

Praise for Whitewater Rescues:

“Over my career of taking first responder and rescue classes, some of the most valuable lessons I have learned came from the instructors’ “war stories” that detailed not just the technical information but also the human experience. Very often these tales have been based on situations that did not have desirable outcomes. This collection of success stories is such an interesting learning experience and helps give some insight into the ever-present question ‘What would I do?’ ” —Mike Mather, ACA Safety & Rescue ITE, Rescue 3 International Instructor Trainer, Higgins & Langley Award Recipient

“I’ve been reading Charlie’s river accident reports for over 30 years, and his unflinching approach has helped develop my awareness of what goes wrong and why. This new collection provides a delightful counterpoint, offering stories of how quick thinking, strong teamwork, and ingenious solutions prevented the worst from happening. May this book inspire river runners to respond creatively to the inevitable challenges.” —Teresa Gryder, ND; safety chair, Lower Columbia Canoe Club (WA)

“Charlie’s collection of whitewater accidents and successful results is a read worth your time. It underscores clear meaning: that if we don’t understand and analyze the mishaps and mistakes of those who have gone before us, we are most certainly going to repeat those occurrences and, without proper action and quick thinking, suffer the consequences. I believe Charlie has shared paddling experiences to guide us toward safer paddling.” —Virgil Chambers, National Safe Boating Council

“I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in whitewater safety and especially for all paddling instructors.” —Charlie Duffy, ACA swiftwater rescue instructor

“Charlie continues his lifelong contribution to whitewater safety with Whitewater Rescues. The book is a pleasant twist on accident prevention and boating safety.” —Robert B. Kauffman, PhD; author and boating-safety expert

Read over 75 of the most compelling true stories of canoeing, kayaking, and rafting rescues ever submitted to the American Whitewater Accident Database.

Risk is a part of everyday life, but it takes a special person to grab a paddle and choose to navigate a canoe, kayak, or raft over whitewater. After all, when you mix people and moving water, accidents are bound to occur. Sometimes, inexperienced paddlers make terrible mistakes; other times, expert paddlers get caught in dangerous conditions. Regardless of the circumstances, these life-or-death moments can end in tragedy—or can become the setting for heroic rescues.

Charlie Walbridge has been a river guide, a paddling-related business owner, and a member of the American Whitewater Board. That’s where he began some of his most important work: maintaining their accident database and producing bi-annual reports of US whitewater fatalities. Over the years, the lessons learned and the practices developed from this information have saved countless lives.

In Whitewater Rescues Charlie shares more than 75 of the most thrilling true stories of survival, bravery, and quick thinking ever submitted to the American Whitewater Accident Database. The narratives are uplifting and inspiring, and they spotlight the courage and ingenuity of whitewater paddlers.

Read rescue stories about:

  • Near drownings
  • Pins and entrapments
  • Injuries and resuscitations
  • Evacuations
  • Bonus: strategies for avoiding and managing risk

Charlie’s goal is to help paddlers stay safe by sharing what has worked for others. There is much to admire and learn from each of these stories. Perhaps they will also be useful to you.

Additional information

Dimensions 5.5 × 8.5 in

Charlie Walbridge



Page Count:



Menasha Ridge Press

Publication Date

April 16, 2024


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