Fishermen, family and friends are mourning the loss of fishing guide Gary Farley, 63, who died Saturday afternoon in a boating accident on the Klamath River.
Farley was leading two old friends from Ferndale on a fishing trip up the river. Witnesses said Farley was thrown from his boat after hitting a gravel bar and could not be resuscitated.
Yurok Tribal Police and sheriff’s deputies from Del Norte and Humboldt counties responded to the incident. The coroner’s office in Eureka is expected to release an autopsy report later today.
“It’s tragic, and it’s a huge loss to this community,” said Richard Mossholder, one of Farley’s many friends and fellow fishing guides. “Gary has been on this river almost all his life. He was a great boat captain and the best guide on the river, always has been. He was the nicest guy and always helped everybody. … I’m sure at some point in time there’s gonna be a book written about that man.”
Mossholder owns Rivers West Lodge, about 20 miles upstream from the mouth of the river and 150 yards downstream from the site of Farley’s accident.
“I was on the deck and saw his boat go by. It sounded like he had gone past the lodge. I thought I heard him slowing down, so I got in my truck to go pick him up, but something didn’t sound right. The people that were with him had already pulled his boat up to the shore and were shouting. They had pulled him out of the water and it was very obvious that he didn’t make it,” said Mossholder.
Farley’s younger brother, Jeff, said that a broken steering cable is likely to blame.
“They were heading up the river, pretty full bore, and went around a corner. The guys with him said he hit his head and fell out over the back of the boat. They said he didn’t seem to swim when he fell in the water so they thought he got knocked out,” he added.
The two men accompanying Farley were seen for potential head injuries.
“One guy had a huge knot on his head. It looked like he could possibly have a concussion,” said Mossholder.
Farley led fishing trips for more than 30 years in Klamath, where he earned a reputation as a skilled guide and respected community member. An online fundraiser for his burial and memorial raised more than twice its goal in one day from 27 supporters.
“He was one of a kind — an amazing dad, grandfather, friend and fisherman,” says the fundraiser’s web page. One of the contributors called him a “legend.”
Jeff Farley said the family will hold a “celebration of life” event on Saturday afternoon to remember his brother, the “gentleman on the river.”