A Wyoming kayak company has been cited for training and clothing deficiencies, after one of its guides died of hypothermia when an attempt to rescue a client went awry.
The incident occurred on June 14, 2017 and claimed the life of 23-year-old Timothy Hayden Ryan of Salt Lake City.
Ryan was one of three kayak guides employed by OARS West Inc. who were leading a party of nine clients on Yellowstone Lake. According to Wyoming’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Ryan went into the frigid water while helping a client whose kayak had capsized.
The kayaking party was rescued by the National Park Service Water Rangers and transported to a nearby marina, where Ryan was pronounced dead due to exposure and hypothermia.
OARS West was cited for eight violations, six of them serious, with fines totaling $16,224. OSHA says the company has abated the violations.
OSHA found that:
• The three OARS West employees were all first year guides. Ryan had the most experience – 45 days.
• The guides were not trained in self or buddy rescue techniques for kayaks.
• The guides were using everyday clothing for extremity protection.
• The guides were not familiar with the company’s emergency response procedures.
• The employer should evaluate the rescue training provided to its guides, as well as the training used to familiarize new guides with their duties within the company’s emergency response plan.
• The employer should reevaluate their PPE policy specific to Yellowstone Lake.
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