A Banff man who was rafting the weekend a Calgary woman died near Golden, B.C., says the water was fast and cold at the time of her accidental drowning.

Mary Cretney-Thibeault, 50, died in a river rafting accident on the Kicking Horse River when the lead raft in a group of five rafts flipped over.

The group was on a trip with the BC Rivers Outfitters Association.

Brad Skinner was part of a six-raft group on the Kickinghorse River around the time when Cretney-Thibeault drowned.


Brad Skinner said the water was very fast and cold at the time of the woman's death near Golden, BC. (Elizabeth Snaddon/CBC)

He said they were making the first of two trips in the middle canyon when one of their own rafts flipped.

"We were in full paddle mode, moving quite quickly down the river, trying to get to that boat and get those people out of the water," Skinner said.

Skinner says they got everyone to safety in about five minutes, despite the fast-moving water.

"It was incredibly fast and incredibly white," he said. "There was definitely a lot of turbulence in the water."

Then a short time later a raft with another company tipped near the same part of the river.

Keith Davis is with the company, which has been in operation for more than 30 years.

"Not very well quite frankly," Davis said when asked how the staff is doing. "This is extremely traumatic for the staff and traumatic for them in the sense that they have this tremendous sense of loss in having this kind of thing happen."

Police and the B.C. Coroners Service are investigating.