A Central Point oar maker who was an experienced rafter died and a Roseburg man survived Sunday when they were tossed from their raft while paddling a section of the North Umpqua River during high flows.
Scott James "Scotty" Jarrell, 38, and Paul Eckel of Roseburg were running through Bathtub Rapids during flows of about 6,000 cubic feet per second when both men were thrown from the 9 1/2-foot raft, authorities said.
Eckel was able to get back in the raft, but Jarrell, whom friends described as a strong rafter and swimmer, was unable to get out of the water, according to the Douglas County Sheriff's Office.
Eckel again was tossed from the raft as the pair floated through another rapid called Island Creek, where Eckel lost sight of Jarrell, deputies said.
Witnesses watching from nearby Highway 138 telephoned authorities and helped Eckel find Jarrell, whom he pulled onto the shoreline and began lifesaving efforts, deputies said. Emergency crews took over when they arrived, but Jarrell was declared dead at the scene, deputies said.
Both men were wearing helmets and life jackets, sheriff's Sgt. Brad O'Dell said.
Jarrell was an oar maker at Gold Hill-based Sawyer Paddles and Oars, where he worked since 2005, Sawyers President Pete Newport said.
"He was one of the most focused super-stars on our team," Newport said. "He was a pretty amazing guy."
Jarrell had been whitewater rafting about five years and had competed in the past two King of the Rogue races along the Rogue River near Gold Hill, Newport said.
"Scotty was getting pretty darn good at rafting," Newport said.
The North Umpqua was flowing at more than 6,000 cfs Sunday at Glide, the first U.S. Geological Survey gauge downstream of the scene, according to the USGS.
Newport, one of four who represented the United States in last fall's World Rafting Championships in the United Arab Emigrates, said the highest he has run that stretch was about 2,000 cfs.
Bathtub and Island Creek rapids are rated as Class III rapids in normal water conditions.
Newport said it is "always risky" running rivers like the North Umpqua when it roils somewhat unpredictably at high flows, "especially with just two people," Newport said. "You don't have a backup plan if something goes wrong. It can make it extra dangerous.
"I wish I was there," Newport said.
Newport said Jarrell was divorced and raised his only daughter, who graduated from high school last summer.
— Reach Mail Tribune reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MTwriterFreeman.