A guide from the Hudson River Rafting Company takes clients down the Hudson River in North River May 5, 2012 during the White Water Derby.
The Hudson River Rafting Company, based in North Creek, can resume guiding trips under certain restrictions according to a ruling handed down by the State Supreme Court in Johnstown.
According to Elizabeth Debold, media coordinator for Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, a decision handed down on May 15 determined the Hudson River Rafting Company and owner Patrick Cunningham may resume guiding in New York as long as the company posts a $50,000 performance bond to help prevent further violations.
The company was also ordered to pay $12,000 in civil penalty’s for each of the 10 documented instances where employees were either issued tickets for guiding without a license or for operating a bus without the appropriate license.
According to the decision issued by State Supreme Court Justice Richard Giaradino, the court threw out a motion that the Hudson River Rafting Company engaged in false and misleading advertising. The ruling also permanently prohibits the company from renting rafts, kayaks or any similar type of watercraft for customers to “captain their own boats” on rivers where a licensed guide is required.
The court’s ruling lifts a restraining order against the North Creek company’s license to guide that was issued after the drowning death of a client, Tamara Blake, 53, of Columbus, Ohio, in September 2012.
Hudson River Rafting Company guide Rory K. Fay, who was guiding the raft Blake fell out of, was determined to be intoxicated at the time of the accident. He pleaded guilty to criminally negligent homicide and two other charges in November.
An investigation into the practices of Hudson River Rafting Company found that rafting guides working for the company did not have proper licenses and their actions were negligible.
Debold said the Attorney General’s office believes the ruling will be a positive step to encourage safe practices by New York guides.
“We think this is a really great win for New Yorkers,” Debold said. “It allows them to go back and improve their business practices and protect consumers from unsafe conditions.”
Beginning in 1981, Hudson River Rafting Company was one of the first companies to offer rafting trips on the Hudson, Black and Sacandaga rivers and the company’s years of experience were noted by Giaradino.
According to the Attorney General’s office there are no further charges pending against Cunningham or the Hudson River Rafting Company at this time and once the company posts the bond, they can resume business. However, should Cunningham or the Hudson River Rafting Company violate the judge’s injunction, it will be considered contempt of court.
The status of the DEC restraining order imposed on the company last fall was unclear as of press time May 22.
Calls to Cunningham and his lawyer, Jason Britt, were not returned as of press time.