Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Big Guys Don't Float

This is as close as fat guys should get their boat to water. To wit:
A 500-pound man injured while rafting down a shallow stretch of the St. Croix River was pulled to safety Tuesday by dozens of rescue workers who spent hours carrying him to a navigable part of the waterway.[SOURCE]
I am not one to make fun of over-weight people, but here's what I will say: There are certain activities that probably should be considered "dangerous," or even "off-limits," to particular segments of the population.

It took authorities 12 hours to rescue Martin Rike after his inflatable raft hit some rocks and deflated in about 2 inches of water. Apparently, he tried to walk to shore and injured himself and was thus unable to get to safety. Chief Deputy Steve Ovick said, "The aircraft that found him said they could not lift that amount of weight."

Eventually 40-50 people used an aluminum boat as a stretcher and carried this guy two inches at a time until they could float him down river to a waiting ambulance.

This sort of thing happens every once in a while, where someone gets stuck or injured somewhere they probably shouldn't be. Sometimes it ends in tragedy (James Kim, in Oregon, who tried to walk through the snow to get help for his family stuck in a car), almost superhuman resolve (Aron Ralston, who cut off his arm to free himself from a boulder), or a massive rescue effort (remember "Baby Jessica," who was pulled from a well in Texas after 58 hours).

Mr. Rike said he went on the rafting trip due to his doctor's advice to take up "a fun but safe activity." While it is impossible to plan for every contingency in situations such as this, it is possible to imagine a not-so-far-fetched scenario where this would probably not be a good idea. Like the scenario which actually occurred.

Kudos to those who rescued Rike, who obviously put forth a herculean effort to do so. Unlike some of the other examples above, it seems Rike could have easily avoided putting himself in this position. Just like I should not attempt to swim the English Channel tomorrow - we all have our limitations - maybe rafting shouldn't be considered "a fun but safe activity."

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