Saturday, 21 November 2015

Forgotten pioneer, victim or killer?

It was around this time of year in in 1928 that Bessie Hyde probably became the first woman to run the Grand Canyon rapids. She and her husband took on the challenge as their honeymoon trip in a home-made boat, but after restocking and returning to the water on 18th November they were never seen again – alive or dead – although their boat eventually turned up undamaged. 

Their disappearance gave rise to the usual conspiracy theories. Had Bessie's husband murdered her? Had she killed him? Had they been attacked and robbed? There was no credible evidence behind any of the speculation. Many years later a woman claimed to be Bessie, saying she’d murdered her husband all those years ago, but that story was debunked.

Based on the scant evidence that was uncovered - their boat undamaged and still upright; their families' fruitless search - chances are they made it through the most dangerous run but met with an accident. Underwater rocks in a shallow but fast moving stretch might have unshipped them both. Was one of them thrown overboard and did the other fall in attempting a rescue? As their bodies were not found quickly, they would have been crushed in the turbulent water, scattered and disposed of by wild animals.

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