post Luca Chiarabini Memorial 2019-11-19T08:54:06+00:00
Luca Chiarabini died the 3rd August 2017 while crossing the Kings River. The “Estate of Luca Chiarabini” was appointed by court as personal representative to handle all of Luca’s affairs after that.
The Estate of Luca Chiarabini believes that Rick Ianniello, an experienced canyoneer, made serious mistakes in handling the rope while Luca was in the water, as described by Rick in his self written report of the accident (EXHIBIT 1).
As a result, Luca’s Estate strongly believes that Rick was a significant cause of Luca’s death. An attempt was made to have Rick acknowledge his role, which was unsuccessful. Luca’s Estate then filed a lawsuit in July 2018.
In June 2019 a mandatory mediation process took place. A proposed settlement was reached with the assistance of mediator Judge Ardaiz. The settlement involved no additional monetary cost or compensation for any party, and provided that Rick would execute a written apology admitting his role in Luca’s death. Rick ended up putting forward a specific text of apology that Luca’s Estate found sufficient.
Luca’s Estate took time to ponder the settlement with the offered apology from Rick. In October Luca’s Estate informed Rick’s counsel that it was definitively ready to honor the June settlement proposal of Judge Ardaiz.
Nevertheless, Rick has confirmed that he is no longer willing to accept the June settlement proposal.
Luca’s Estate is therefore going ahead preparing the case for trial.
If at any moment before 15th December 2019, the June settlement agreement becomes acceptable for Rick again, Luca’s Estate will agree to those terms too.
Exhibit 1: Excerpt from Rick’s Report of the accident ( text )
We went over the procedure again. Luca told me I was under no circumstances to let him drift into the rapid downstream of our crossing. He told me that if I tied off the rope before the knot that connected his 8mm rope to my 6mm one, that was the right length that got me back in to shore. He clipped his CRITR (figure 8 style rappel device with extra hooks) on the anchor, telling me I should use it to help tie of the rope, as it would pull too hard to hold by hand. We didn’t attach the rope to the CRITR in any way, as it would have been difficult to feed rope out fast enough while running it through that device. Willie went downstream with a 270 foot floating line he had in a bag, to use as a throw bag in case Luca needed help. Luca reiterated that I not let him float downstream into the rapid. And then, he put the flippers on, and went off into the eddy.
I fed rope out to Luca, and watched him swim out into the current. I’m not a fast swimmer. Luca was much better, and seemed to be making good progress. I thought he was there. He got to the other side of the river current, and was nearly in an eddy, just above where the river began to get rocky and drop into the rapid. At this point I had fed the rope out, maybe 10 feet past the knot. Then Luca threw a hand up out of the water, clearly signaling to pull him back in. I quickly started pulling the rope in as fast as I could. Then it went taut. I reached for the CRITR, and pulled a bite through. The rope cinched tighter, and pulled my hand against the device. It pulled harder, as if it were going to squeeze my hand in through the 2inch diameter hole that I had pulled the rope through. I jerked my hand out and held tight to the rope.
Even through the gloves I wore, the rope started to slide and burn my hands. Panicked, I held on, trying to figure out some way to stop it. I think I tried wrapping it around myself, only to be lifted from the ground, jerked against the rock, and have more rope slide through. Next I took the end of the rope in my hand, threw it around the end of the rope Luca was tied to, and pulled a bite back through the opening, to create a quick hitch. The rope stopped feeding out.
I don’t know how much rope came out during that time. Maybe 20 feet. Maybe 100. For the moment I was relieved. I thought I had succeeded, but a stand of willows blocked my view of Luca downstream, so I ran down the bank to make sure that he made it to shore successfully. Willie was there, and yelled at me. I looked into the river, but could not see Luca. Willie yelled something at me again as he coiled the rope. I then spotted Luca, coming up out of the water for air, tied to the rope, in a section of strong, fast current, just at the top of the rapid. The one I wasn’t supposed to let him drift into.