Game and Fish: Woman who died in Snake River incident was wearing device that did not inflate
JACKSON (WNE) –- Debra Jean Ayer-Harty, who died in a guided fishing incident on the Snake River last week, was wearing an inflatable personal floatation device that failed to inflate, officials from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department confirmed Tuesday.
Ayer-Harty and a relative, who was also wearing an inflatable PFD that did not inflate, were dumped into the river along with their fishing guide about 3 1/2 miles north of the South Park boat ramp when their drift boat hit an eddy line, tipped and took on water before overturning. Ayer-Harty’s relative, who has not been identified, and the guide were able to swim safely to shore.
It isn’t yet known “whether the device failed or whether the individual was unable to inflate it,” said Game and Fish spokesman Mark Gocke.
“Inflatable PFDs, they’re approved by the Coast Guard and so they’re perfectly legal. However, I suppose to be safe, wearing a standard PFD might be a safer option,” he said. “That way you’re not relying on an inflating device that may or may not work.”
Teton County Coroner Dr. Brent Blue determined that Ayer-Harty, a 65-year-old woman from Fairhope, Alabama, died of a “myocardial infarction,” the technical term for a heart attack, and ruled the manner of death “natural.”
“On autopsy she had no findings of drowning,” Dr. Blue said in an interview. “Now, would she have had a heart attack sitting on the side of the boat and not being dumped into the water? I can’t answer that question.”
No charges are expected to be brought in what Teton County Sheriff Mark Carr said appears to have been a “tragic accident.”