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Canoe capsizes, sending woman 8 miles down San Rafael river

A woman canoeing with her husband on the San Rafael River Thursday clung to the boat after capsizing. Her husband managed to call for help and she was rescued after traveling 8 miles downstream, authorities said. The pair was from the area and went home i
A woman canoeing with her husband on the San Rafael River Thursday clung to the boat after capsizing. Her husband managed to call for help and she was rescued after traveling 8 miles downstream, authorities said. The pair was from the area and went home in their pickup truck.
Emery County Sheriff's Office

CASTLE DALE — A canoeist who capsized Thursday afternoon clung to her boat for four hours as it traveled 8 miles in rushing water surrounded by towering canyon walls.

Her husband also was tossed out of the canoe and made it to shore, where he was searching for his wife, 62. The couple was on the San Rafael River near the Fuller's Bottom and Singing Bridge areas.

The husband spotted another visitor who had a cellphone with service, and the pair called authorities.

Crews scattered to find the woman, with some rescuers standing in the river, others on the shore and more atop cliffs. A helicopter flown from Salt Lake City spotted the woman in a blue life jacket, still gripping the canoe. Another group of floaters pulled her out of the water around the same time.

Authorities believe the woman had been in the cold water for four hours but did not have hypothermia.

The speedy, successful response by the helicopter and crews "made for a happy ending to a very dangerous situation," the Emery County Sheriff's Office wrote on its Facebook page.

After the rescue, the Emery County couple got in their pickup truck and drove home, said Janalee Luke, a spokeswoman for the sheriff's office.

Luke said it's not clear why the canoe capsized.

"It usually is a bad outcome" when someone cannot be found on the river, she said, especially when the water is as high, fast and chilly as it has been this week.

"She's lucky to be safe," Luke said.

Contributing: Marc Giauque