Heart attacks blamed for Rogue River deaths

GOLD BEACH — Two men who died this month after rafting accidents five days apart in the Rogue River's remote Blossom Bar were killed by heart attacks and not drownings, the Curry County Sheriff's Department said Monday.

Medfical examiner reports that the "stress of the events" of crashing rafts at the rapid's infamous "Picket Fence" set of rocks and getting knocked into the Class IV rapid contributed to their deaths, the Sheriff's Department announced.

Steven D. Hoyer, 57, of Spartanburg, S.C., was wearing a life jacket and helmet when rafters pulled his body from the river downstream of Blossom Bar on July 12. He was alone in his raft trying to free it from the Picket Fence when he somehow was thrown into the river.

Five days later, Steven Boyd, 66, from Walla Walla, Wash., apparently struck his head on a rock when he and two others were pitched into Rogue at the Picket Fence. Boyd and two others in the raft were wearing life jackets and the other two survived with minor injuries.

In both fatalities, the men were pulled from the river unconscious.

Blossom Bar, the signature rapid of the Rogue's Wild and Scenic section, is about 52 miles east of Gold Beach.

The thrill of negotiating a raft, driftboat or kayak through the multi-maneuver Blossom Bar draws experienced floaters from all corners of the country.

However, the rapid also has earned the dubious distinction as the most dangerous within the 34-mile, three- to four-day float through the Wild and Scenic section.

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