The owner of the Hudson River Rafting Company and one of his guides face charges of reckless endangerment for allegedly sending customers on whitewater trips without licensed guides.
Patrick Cunningham, the company’s owner, and Heath Bromley, the guide, pleaded not guilty to the misdemeanor charges in Indian Lake Town Court, according to the Hamilton County district attorney’s office.
The charges of second-degree reckless endangerment stem from two separate incidents last month. Details of the charges are contained in court documents filed by Forest Ranger Steven Ovitt.
On August 10, Bromley “falsely” stated to Greg Kaasman, an employee of Longacre Expeditions, that the law does not require licensed guides to accompany customers on whitewater trips through the Hudson Gorge, according to Ovitt. The document says Bromley “persuaded Mr. Kaasman to permit such unguided trip by 11 children who were participating in a program sponsored by Longacre Expeditions.”
On August 12, Cunningham allegedly failed to provide a licensed guide to a customer named Robert Carson. Ovitt says Cunningham, “after being notified by Mr. Carson that he had no experience in whitewater on any type of raft, kayak or other boat, did importune Mr. Carson to attempt the trip in an inflatable kayak giving no instructions to Mr. Carson.”
In both cases, the court documents allege that the defendants engaged in reckless behavior “which created a substantial risk of serious physical injury to others.”
It could not be learned whether anyone was hurt in either incident. Both the district attorney’s office and the state Department of Environmental Conservation refused to discuss the case.
Reached by telephone, Cunningham also refused to discuss the case, though he said that customers sometimes request to captain their own rafts, “and I believe that’s legal in every river in the United States.”
Cunningham and Bromley also are charged with violating a DEC regulation that prohibits people from engaging in any activity on state land “which violates the Penal Law.”
Hudson River Rafting Company is one of the oldest rafting outfits operating on the Hudson. The seventeen-mile Hudson trip begins in the hamlet of Indian Lake and ends in the hamlet of North Creek. The first three and a half miles are on the Indian River, which has class 3 (intermediate) rapids. Rafters then enter the Hudson and eventually pass through the heavier rapids of the Hudson Gorge.
Depending on the season, Hudson River Rafting charges $80 to $105 per person. The company’s website promises “a fun, safe and exciting trip.”