boy was i scared

July 19, 2008
By Annie Widom, Pittsburgh, PA

It all started when my favorite dog named Zeus blew out his knee. Zeus is my neighbors’ dog, and I played fetch with him almost everyday. Boy, could he run! Well he used to.
Later that week, I killed may toe. I was with Zeus family, delivering flyers for our block party. My bff Emily and I were racing to the mailbox when (BAM) my toe slammed into a concrete step. I jumped two feet in the air. It hurt so much!
When I was lying on the couch with ice on my foot, I remembered about the camping/rafting trip the next day. It was meant to be a really hard river with a lot of hard rapids. I began to worry because some people say that bad things happen in threes, and the camping trip was with those same neighbors. I wondered, what will be next?
The next day we drove down to Ohio Pyle. We got on the river safely. (Thank goodness!) We got through most of the rapids safely, getting stuck very few times. Then we were approaching Dimple Rock where 19 people had died. We got through that rapid safely by doing what our leader told us; the people on the right side of the boat must go over and kiss the rock. That means pushing against the rock as hard as we could.
There is a folk tradition on the Lower Youghiogheny requires boaters to pay homage to the river Gods. You have to go backwards through Killer Falls. It is the tiniest rapid on the whole river, but you still have to do it. By doing so it gets you safely through the last rapid, Hells Gate. Our raft somehow floated right past killer falls, and boy did we pay the price.
We were floating down the river when we were forced through big rocks. All of a sudden we were moving up this huge rock. We had hit Hells Gate. The next thing I new I was drowning along with my sister, my host sister, my neighbor and my brother. My brother found himself under a hundred pound boat gasping for air. I was floating down a river with rocks everywhere. All I could think about was the movie the park ranger showed us at the beginning, with people putting their feet down and getting trapped and pushed under water.
It took us about 15 minutes to paddle up stream to the takeout. We were all soaking wet and afraid that our neighbor might be hurt. We finally made it to shore with all the paddles the boat and all the people, well except for my neighbor. Suddenly we saw about 15 people gathered around something in the water. My heart was racing. Sure enough it was my neighbor looking dead. When we were close enough, we heard them saying that symptoms of hypothermia had set in. The people down at the shore called the paramedics. The last thing we saw was the fading taillights and the distant sounds of the siren.

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