Portland kayaker dies in Tuolumne County waters

A well-known kayaker from Portland drowned Sunday morning after he got caught in a whirlpool in the fast-flowing waters above Cherry Lake in eastern Tuolumne County, authorities said.

Allen Michael Satcher, 28, was among a group of six kayakers in Cherry Creek when his kayak got caught in a whirlpool near the third drop at Waterfall Alley, said sheriff’s Sgt. Jeff Wilson.

“He was caught spinning and spinning and couldn’t get out,” he said.

As his kayak kept spinning, witnesses told authorities that Satcher jumped out to try to escape, but then got caught himself, tired and went under water. Another kayaker got a rope around Satcher, pulled him out and performed CPR on him for 30 minutes.

Wilson said that area is popular for kayakers.

A whirlpool can form in a river by fast-moving water flowing around an object like a submerged rock, creating a spinning motion.“When the water is this high, it’s not even safe for people who know what they’re doing,” Wilson said.

The Sheriff’s Department received a call at 9:54 a.m. regarding a GPS beacon that had been activated in the area of Cherry Bomb Gorge, a remote area near the creek. A California Highway Patrol helicopter was able to locate the source of the beacon, and officers were able to land and talk with the group.

Satcher has appeared in kayak ads for NRS, an Idaho-based outdoor gear and sporting goods company.