Creature Craft Founder Hospitalized After Running Wash.’s Sunset Falls


The raft didn’t flip, but it landed its inventor in the hospital. In late May, Darren Vancil, inventor of the Creature Craft, landed in the emergency room after taking his Creature Craft brainchild down Washington’s notorious Sunset Falls on the Skykomish River.

Sunset Falls is one of the more challenging stretches of whitewater in the Northwest, dropping 100 feet over a 300-foot stretch of river.

It’s only been run a handful of times. Creature Crafts, with their inflatable bars, or “roll cages”, over the top, are designed to be flip-proof; tip them over like a conventional raft and they pop right back up. But that doesn’t make their riders immune from injury at the hands of a drop like Sunset Falls.

On May 21, Vancil, who invented the Creature Craft in 1998, and a partner took their Creature Craft down Sunset, with Vancil suffering the consequences. Halfway down, in what Vancil described to as a “violent vertical crease,” Vancil’s inflatable seat folded around him, tearing his paddle away.

The website reports that the handle of his paddle struck him behind his ear, knocking him unconscious. While the raft made it through the falls without tipping, Vancil remained unconscious for five to 10 seconds after the impact, and suffered a fractured pelvis and sacrum. He was then was rushed to a nearby hospital, where is he expected to make a full recovery.

“That sort of thing is only possible in a Creature Craft,” Vancil told from his hospital bed.

Watch videos of the run: