A number of years ago, I read about a good samaritan who got in trouble for plowing a street so his neighbors weren’t trapped by snow. The local government didn’t like being exposed for incompetence. More recently, I watched a documentary about the Air Florida crash in Washington in the early 1980s, which featured a civilian jumping in the water to rescue a woman while a bunch of bureaucrats were apparently frozen into inaction by procedural rules. Fortunately, the hero in this case didn’t get in trouble for unauthorized rescuing. The same can’t be said, unfortunately, for a rafting guide in Arkansas who was arrested for coming to the aid of a 13-year old girl. This story was linked on Instapundit, and Glenn Reynolds appropriately noted that the bureaucrats must have been pissed that they were exposed for incompetence.
Clear Creek sheriff’s deputies on Thursday arrested a rafting guide for swimming to a stranded young rafter who had tumbled from his boat on Clear Creek. Ryan Daniel Snodgrass, a 28-year-old guide with Arkansas Valley Adventures rafting company, was charged with “obstructing government operations,” said Clear Creek Sheriff Don Krueger. “He was told not to go in the water, and he jumped in and swam over to the victim and jeopardized the rescue operation,” said Krueger, noting that his office was deciding whether to file similar charges against another guide who was at the scene just downstream of Kermitts Roadhouse on U.S. 6. Duke Bradford, owner of Arkansas Valley Adventures, said Snodgrass did the right thing by contacting the 13-year-old Texas girl immediately and not waiting for the county’s search and rescue team to assemble ropes, rafts and rescuers. “When you have someone in sight who has taken a long swim, you need to make contact immediately,” said Bradford, a 15-year rafting guide and ski patroller from Summit County. “This is just silly. Ryan Snodgrass acted entirely appropriately. These guys came to the scene late and there was a rescue in progress. They came in and took over an existing rescue. To leave a patient on the side of a river while you get your gear out of the car and set up a rescue system you read about in a book is simply not good policy.”