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Police: Woman drowned during Hudson River rafting trip, guide charged

2012-09-28T08:07:00Z 2012-09-28T16:51:29Z Police: Woman drowned during Hudson River rafting trip, guide chargedDON LEHMAN -- dlehman@poststar.com Glens Falls Post-Star
September 28, 2012 8:07 am  • 

NDIAN LAKE -- A woman drowned Thursday during a whitewater rafting trip on the Indian and Hudson rivers and the guide who led the trip was charged with criminally negligent homicide, according to State Police.

Tamara F. Blake, 53, of Columbus, Ohio, was pronounced dead after she was thrown from a raft at 10:20 a.m., according to State Police.

State Police said Blake fell in the water in the Indian River, and her body was recovered about 5 miles downstream in the Hudson River. She was pronounced dead where she was recovered.

The guide who was piloting the raft, Rory K. Fay, 37, of North Creek, was charged with criminally negligent homicide Thursday night, according to State Police.

State Police said he was “intoxicated” and that a passenger with Blake steered the group’s raft to shore after Fay and Blake were thrown from it.

“We are continuing to investigate the role alcohol had in the situation,” Hamilton County District Attorney Marsha Purdue said.

Fay was arraigned and sent to Hamilton County Jail for lack of bail.

Police said Fay, Blake and Richard J. Clar, 53, of Columbus, Ohio, were on the raft on the Indian River when Blake and Fay were ejected. Clar got the boat to shore and Fay swam to shore.

Clar and Fay walked to Chain of Lakes Road after they got out of the river, but were unable to locate Blake.

A State Police helicopter was used to search the river, and the helicopter crew located Blake’s body.

The passengers were wearing helmets and life vests.

Patrick Cunningham, the owner of Hudson River Rafting Co., said the person was on a trip guided by his company and Fay worked for his company.

The trips start on the Indian River, riding a bubble of water to the Hudson River and follows the Hudson to North River.

He said one guide was with the “small” group, and he was awaiting further details on what happened.

“It’s a tragedy,” Cunningham said.

He said State Police interviewed him, but he had not talked with Fay and did not know he had been charged and jailed until a Post-Star reporter informed him.

Cunningham said Fay began working as a guide for his company this past spring, passed the guide’s test and had taken about 20 trips.

The prosecution is not the first of Cunningham’s staff for a rafting mishap.

Cunningham and one of his guides were charged with misdemeanor reckless endangerment in 2010 after passengers were allegedly sent down the river in an unguided boat and another group was abandoned in a remote area.

Charges against the guide were dismissed, but the charges against Cunningham were adjourned in contemplation of dismissal earlier this year. Hamilton County prosecutors filed a request earlier this month to re-open the case because they did not believe he abided by the terms of the adjournment.

That could result in the charges being renewed. No new court date has been set, and Purdue said she could not comment on the case Friday.

The death was the first related to a commercial rafting trip on the Hudson River in more than 15 years. The last occurred in 1994, according to Post-Star archives.

Cunningham said his company, which has been in business since the 1970s, had not had a fatality of a rafter before Thursday.

Copyright 2015 Glens Falls Post-Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(6) Comments

  1. gizmo
    Report Abuse
    gizmo - October 02, 2012 7:42 am
    Critter. Yes there are many fine guides, unfortunately from the 3 incidents it is NOT this company. Other companies have had to rescue their customers, this is good guiding??? Nope, sorry but he needs to be put out of business. I know the guides who did rescues for 2 of these incidents, and it is a shame that others have to suffer for this company.
    I stick with my posting....by the way....are you KD? I know a Critter who works on the river, he is one excellent guide and so are his co-workers. They are professionals.
  2. raftgide
    Report Abuse
    raftgide - September 30, 2012 5:49 pm
    I agree with the posters below about the irresponsibility of the Hudson River Rafting Company, especially in the past few years. But don't forget about the many mishaps back in the late 80's/early 90's. I seem to remember 3 or 4 deaths in a period of 4 or 5 years, almost all of them with one company - Hudson White Water World. I believe that this company originated in Pennsylvania as Pocono White Water World, but changed their name after a few of the accidents. Check out this story from the NY Times: http://www.nytimes.com/1994/07/31/travel/on-rafting-trip-running-into-trouble.html

    I was on the river that day and had to save a couple of customers from another company (ARO). One of them needed CPR, and we delivered them to a waiting ambulance at Barton's Mines Road. Although there were no deaths that day, we nicknamed the day "Black Sunday".
  3. Critter
    Report Abuse
    Critter - September 30, 2012 8:35 am
    Gizmo; I find your comments wrong. There are Many Fine Outfitters and OUTSTANDING GUIDES running the Hudson. For you to use the story of this terrible tragety as a selling point for Doug and his fine company Disgusting at best. My sorrow and sympathy go out to the family and friends of Tamara.
  4. gizmo
    Report Abuse
    gizmo - September 29, 2012 7:29 am
    Wild Waters is the best in the area, the guides are professional and competent. This Hudson group has had problems for a while, and nothing seems to have improved..quite the opposite has happened. This is a sad situation.
    If you want good guides, trained to the max, use Wild Waters! They rescue the people Hudson River leaves behind!!
  5. RiverGuide
    Report Abuse
    RiverGuide - September 28, 2012 11:21 pm
    As a guide myself let me first say just how tragic this is and how sorry i am for theis poor womans family. As the other poster has already said, any of us who spend time on the river have seen this kind of horrific event on the horizon for a long time. And now that all of our worst fears have come true something needs to be done. We all saw a glimmer of hope when the charges were brought on two years ago for a group of people this "company" had sent down unguided. I was one of the guides on the river that day and saw the fear in those people as the company i work for attempted to help them down the river. But to all of our surprise nothing actually came of said charges and today we are in this horrible situation. I apologize for the rant, but this is a gigantic part of my life, which i hope to someday share with my newborn daughter. This will not be possible if companies such as Hudson River Rafting continue to exist. The court system could have saved this woman! CLOSE THIS COMPANY
  6. T Jefferson
    Report Abuse
    T Jefferson - September 28, 2012 8:49 pm
    This is absolutely a shame. This incident is going to impact the views for every other guide company in the region. Even other guide companies who hire responsible trained guides and manage their business. Hudson River Rafting used to be the best, and they were also one of the first. Everyone in the guide business has seen this coming. Now a woman is dead. Peoples lives are ruined, when this could have well been avoided. The lesson is: a guide has a serious responsibility and if it is not respected, people are hurt.

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