An Australian mother has issued a warning to travelers to be wary of overseas adventure activities after she and her family nearly died in a ‘nightmare’ rafting experience in Bali.
Aimee Everard was holidaying in Bali, Indonesia, two weeks ago with her husband, their two children – aged seven and nine – and her mother when their raft capsized as they headed down the Ayung River in the island’s south-east.
Mrs Everard’s mother was swept downstream and out of sight, leaving the family helpless and waiting by the river in fear that she was dead – until she was later pulled from the water by rescuers hours later.
The terrifying experience on October 2 took place on the same river just one day before American man Robinaugh Clifford Neil, 64, also disappeared – and is now presumed dead.
Before boarding, Mrs Everard said she and her husband checked several times with the company that their children were old enough to join and were told it was suitable for anyone over five.
Australian mum Aimee Everard (pictured with her husband) has issued a warning to travelers after a recent terrifying white water rafting experience in Bali
But Mrs Everard, who found rafting in Bali as a child so safe it was almost boring, was shocked the river was so ‘hectic’, with rapids raging due to recent rain.
While the first part of the trip went well, disaster struck when the family followed the guide’s instruction to paddle their boat over a waterfall.
‘Our boat was instantly crushed front and rear and we were stuck at the bottom of the falls in the strongest water!’ Mrs. Everard wrote that in a post on Facebook.
‘Our guide was thrown out and my mother was sent directly underwater under the boat, my husband and I clung to our children.
“We could not get to my mother, we were stuck in this suction of water and feared that we would also perish with our children!”
Ms Everard said another boat sailing behind them was unaware the family was stuck and came down the falls, hitting their boat.
The boat was displaced from its position.
Everyone in the other boat also ended up in the river, Ms Everard said, with one girl going straight under, as did her mother.
While Mrs. Everard and her husband concentrated on trying to look after their children, her mother began to float down the river, desperately trying to cling to anything she could.
Pictured: Tourists rafting along the Ayung River in Bali, in the island’s southeast
Ms Everard said the river (pictured) was raging downstream due to recent rain in the area
‘We scooped our guide into the boat and managed to get a stray paddle and two German tourists from the other boat [who were] in the water!’ she said.
‘We managed to pull the boat into the side and get out with the kids, my husband sprinted through the jungle on the side of the river to keep mum in sight but to no avail, the river was just too fast!
‘Mum floated away in front of us, there was absolutely nothing we could do to get her!’
Mrs Everard said the guide and a German man ‘selflessly’ jumped into a boat and set off to find her mother as they stood helplessly waiting on the shore, wondering if she had survived.
‘That was f***d!’ she said.
‘Had we jumped in we would have risked drowning also as one boat would not have been able to save us both!! I stood there with my children and my husband not knowing what to do! We were just stranded and helpless!’
‘I have never felt more helpless or despairing in that moment!’
Mrs Everard said she and her husband made the decision to leave and hike up the mountain to get their children to safety, believing her mother was dead.
But their fear was soon replaced by cheers when they were halfway up the mountain and heard screams and looked down to find Mrs. Everard’s mother, the guide, and the German fellow standing safely on the other side of the river.
Survivors of the rafting accident in Ubud embrace and comfort each other on October 3 as the launch began to find Mr Neil
Once at the top of the mountain, Ms Everard said they had to flag down a truck to take them the 40-minute drive back to base to be reunited with her mother and the rest of the group.
When they were finally reunited, Mrs Everard said she just ‘grabbed her and sobbed’.
‘We honestly thought she was gone! She would have floated down the river for at least a mile, if not more!’
‘They saved her. We were so grateful!’
Mrs Everard said it was incredibly lucky her mother had “smarts on her” and was concentrating on how she would try to save herself from that word.
She believes that if her children had been the ones to fall into the water, they would have instantly drowned and will ‘hold on to the guilt’ of putting her children and family in that situation ‘for the rest of her life’ .
Ms Everard said she shared her experience not to point blame but to encourage others to question the safety of recreational activities before continuing, saying an American man died in similar circumstances the next day.
According to local news outlet Coconuts, Neil disappeared while rafting on the Ayung River in a group with nine other foreigners.
Ms Everard has urged travelers to exercise caution and question the safety of overseas adventure activities. Pictured: Tourists exploring Bali
The boat he was traveling in capsized amid the strong current and as guides worked to get tourists out of the water to safety, they lost sight of Mr Neil.
Authorities immediately launched a search which lasted seven days before being called off when efforts to find Neil proved fruitless.
‘We should have paid a lot more attention to the river after all the rain that has happened! We should have known and I would never have gone!’ said Mrs. Everard.
‘But we did and it was very traumatic! We almost lost our children and my mother!
‘Mom came out of this with five stitches in her hand, cuts and scrapes and in shock! We are lucky!!….We almost weren’t and we almost lost everything!
‘Please question everything like this! I’m not exaggerating at all, it really was that close!’
Ms Everard’s post has gone viral and received more than 3,000 reactions as Australians rallied to send their well wishes following the near miss.
‘This is like reading a movie script, it’s absolutely terrifying. Glad you are all ok. Someone was watching you all, a woman said.
‘We are taking all our children in December, the youngest will just turn 8. My fiance read that he was at an ok age to do it but I didn’t want it…it has helped to prove my mother’s gut instinct. Thanks, said another.
‘How terrifying for you all. So glad your mom and kids were safe,” said a third.