New details have emerged in a recently published report regarding the kayak guide who died last summer in Yellowstone Lake.
Specifically, the details concern the set of circumstances that led to the guide’s death.
The details come from a National Park Service report, recently released to the public through a Freedom of Information Act request.
June 14, 2017, 23-year-old Timothy Conant died of hypothermia while trying to rescue a client who was also suffering from hypothermia. Conant was a first-year guide with Angels Camp, California-based floating company Oars. At the time of the accident, he was kayaking with two other guides and nine clients.
Conant’s death marked the first fatality in Yellowstone Lake in 20 years.
According to the Jackson Hole News & Guide, Conant was working to rescue a client when he reportedly rowed into a patch of cold lake water (approximately 43 degrees Fahrenheit). The other Oars guides told NPS investigators they had “every indication” that Conant was still following them and was “self-rescuing.” According to the Guide, Conant was the lead guide for the group.
The client was brought to shore and treated for hypothermia. However, when a fellow guide doubled back to check on Conant, they found him sitting motionless in the water. From the Guide:
At that point, around 5:45 p.m. June 14, a female guide made a distressed and patchy cellphone call to her boyfriend, an off-duty Yellowstone ranger, not realizing that calling 911 in Yellowstone would directly reach emergency responders. When a Park Service patrol boat arrived 47 minutes later, Conant was pale, not breathing and pulseless. At 7:59 p.m. he was pronounced dead.
Investigating Yellowstone rangers determined that the team of Oars guides was not trained and prepared to deal with a coldwater rescue. One of the Oars kayak guides, the rangers would learn, had only been in a kayak five times in her life before becoming a guide.
“When asked during a follow-up interview [she] stated that she had received no kayak safety training prior to leading trips with Oars,” Yellowstone law enforcement rangers wrote in their report. “She further stated that she had received no training on what to do if a client or co-worker fell out of a kayak into the water. [She] further stated that she also received no training on how to contact authorities for help in the event of an emergency on the water.”
The report adds that Conant was confused and lethargic by the time fellow guides returned. A client eventually came back to help pull Conant to shore.
According to Wyofile, Conant’s death has resulted in fines for Oars. In addition, Conant’s death may prompt changes to Yellowstone permitting system.