There is a man who has single handedly changed the world of white water rafting. He has for many years braved the highest waters in crafts that were woefully underequipped to meet Mother Nature at her best. He saw friends fall victim and for years excepted it, as just part of the sports nature. Which is an EXTREME sport under anyone’s definition.
“River People” come from all walks of life. These are his friends, and some like family and he most certainly is one. During one run years ago, a run he had made before without accident, got him in a bad spot and he was seriuosly injured. An injury that would have rendered many out of the white water sport. He had surgeries on both shoulders are now covered in one oar on each shoulder. But thatmoment in time was pivotal. He loves the water on a level only understood by a few. It calls to him. And you can't fight nature. Danger is at every turn, every blinding spray, every down log or eddies at the bottom of a fall. You might discard this as reckless behavior but Darren is so much more. He is also the guy that who even though he is incredibly short on time, will spend a whole weekend lending a hand doing using his many carpentery number of skills he has learned. He spends hours with his Girlfriend (Kristi) and his two german shepherd on road trips. He travels domestically and abroad to try and educate community leaders in white water safety. Train search and rescue. He builds boat after boat each time trying to make it the safest boat on the river. He passed that goal years ago. Hands down there is no boat safer than the Creature Craft.
As I mentioned on that day of his serious shoulder injuries, he had to recover and had time to think. And is a brilliant inventor. So he got to work and created a boat that can't remain upside down after a flip, drowning, the people left to the mercy of the river. And she barely has any mercy at all. Darren knew there had to be a better way! At this point his goals were one to make the sport less dangerous, second he is not a greedy man he wanted more people, not less to be able to feel that exhileration first hand.
Great ideas right? Make an exhilerating sport doable for all of us. But, He caught flack from long time experts claiming his boat was some of cheating since it allowed people of all experience levels, experience water higher than they could have imagineed. I was tickled when I read my first article. Alas these poor souls, It used to be a very small elite group and Darren was giving it to the world. Like a majigian giving away his tricks.
He had alway tinkered with his idea of a safer boat, but now this accident drove him to turn a hobby into an obsesssion.
And the fun and safe thrills for the average person sounds great, my favorite part of his boats is they save lives. Absolutely no boat can go where his do. I seee a vision where every area that has big white water will have a trained staff using this boat. It's happening already. I will leave a few links to a couple of the places using his boat. This is why my favorite is the WATERWOG. It's the rescue boat and Darren has travelled both domestically and internationally to expo these boats. Just a few links to places and organizations that utilize his boats are:
“After thousands of hours in research, design, and testing of multiple raft concepts, Creature Craft was born in 1998 and an adventurous group of individuals began testing the capabilities of the craft.” – Darren Vancil
Back to the matter at hand. Anyone who ever endeavored to create something great will tell you is a thanksless task. Materials, travel expenses, labor costs those all fall on Darren. And while yes the businees is going in the exact direction it needs to be he isn't at the point of self financial freedom.
And, even with the best build boat for safety is facing the fiercest water on earth. Things can go horribly wrong. Such an event took place May 22nd, 2017 While maneuvering a section of the Skykomish River called Sunset falls (info on it below). Well known for its class V and yes class VI waters. So you see things can and do go from exhilarating to terrifying in a split second.
You might think all this risk taking was for personal goal. But you have to remember back to what gave this company and boat lines their life blood. It's to save lives. Fast water Search and Rescue boats can reach victims previously unreachable. Sadly, but so meaningful is the boats ability to rescue an already lifelesss body and return him to his devastated family. (Yes, Darren has done this). The boat is not a toy. It's not just for fun and exhileration. The reason that he pushes the limits is because his boats are like no other fresh water craft out there. See www.creaturecraft.com for information on the boats themselves, videos that will amaze you. If you really want to see some amazing video go to YouTube and type his name in or just google him. Keep in mind with medical cost as high as they are, a set back like this could take years if ever to recover from. So please if you can donate. Every dollar counts.
Life moves fast on a river swollen with high mountain snow runoff fueled by rain storms even miles away. Conditions can change by the minute. Even without the falls, the boulders, the crazy eddies. The speed of that river was going is enough to make it deadly to the best Olympic swimmers. Darren Vancil is a name known near and far for creating a boat that can rescue others in peril and his expert level of experience being first in on numberous monster rapids. He has several "First Descents" to his name.
Sunset Falls by the Numbers
Total Height: 104 feet
Tallest Drop:104 feet
Num of Drops 1
Avg. Width: 40 feet
Pitch: 45 degrees
Run: 470 feet
Form Gradual Sliding Cascade
Watershed Skykomish River
Stream South Fork Skykomish River
Avg. Volume 2427.0 cu ft/sec (It was much higher this day)
Sunset falls before this day had been conquered a total of 7 times. It's waters are considered VI (Consider that a mystical number that can't be tamed.) 2 of those 7 ascents were in creature crafts. On this day it was smashed by 13 runs on creature crafts. Darren was the only accident. It happened during the 104' fall his oar struck a log(?) and in a split second hit his face immediately rendering him unconscious. The straps that every boat is equiped with managed to keep him in his seat. It was too close for comfort.
Instead of worrying about the considerable pain he is enduring from his broken pelvis, he is already thinking ahead to how to redesign the straps so that this doesn't happen again (the force of his impact broke at least one strap).
If you are friends on facebook with him by now you have seen a very clear headed Darren explaining what happened. This is Darren being Darren playing down his injuries as to not upset friends and family. But, the reality I spent hours on the phone with his sister calming her not knowing if he would live or die as he had internal bleeding. It luckily (as lucky as you can be in undergoing two major surgeries in day) the bleeding was from the serious pelvic break. Which can be terrible but what would have been worse is internal organ damage and he has none. But he will not be stopped and this set back won't stop him either.
His recovery is going to take time. He really needs the help from friends. I put it at $2,500.00 as just a starting point. That's for the extra expenses incurred like food, lodging, renting a large vehicle to transport him home ect. I don't know what the amount of his already two surguries, and hospital charges will be, not to mention what will soon come to pass without work, and a mortgage payment, utlities, food, transportation to doctor appointments, physical therapy, and that's just what I can think of off the top of my head.
When I know more details the amount requested will certainly go up. So please even if I haven't updated the amount don't mistake that all his immediate needs have been met. Let's come together as a group of caring people and make a difference. Even $5.00 adds up quickly. Thank you for your time and patience reading this long post. God Bless and remember those prayers are appreciate!
- Mark Mercado
- Lorrie Soholt-Fairbanks
- Quin Slocumb
Organizer and beneficiary
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