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Gabrielle Peppard/Contributed photo

Gabrielle Peppard recalls fallen tree branch that killed uncle, hurt her


By Nino Paoli

Published on 7/15/23

LA GRANDE — Gabrielle Peppard’s uncle, Cory, began a tradition of whitewater rafting with friends and loved ones some 15 years ago.

The year’s getaway, however, turned tragic when a rotted tree branch fell on two of the group’s tents at a campsite along the Grande Ronde River near dawn on June 14.


“I woke up with a bloody nose, and I kind of just held my face over my hands trying to figure out what’s going on,” said Peppard, who lives in Port Angeles, Washington. “And then I crawled over to open my tent, and I could hear everybody outside, just screaming my uncle’s name.”


Cory Peppard, 61, was killed by the branch, which was 14 inches in diameter and fell around 5:30 a.m.


Gabrielle, 23, and Cory’s girlfriend, Viola Child, 54, sustained injuries that required medical evaluation. A month later, Gabrielle, who sustained a concussion, is coping with physical ailments and remembering the horrific scene, finding solace in her horses and support system.

The trip


On the night of June 13, the group of eight rafters settled for a less-than-ideal campsite after floating 14 miles downstream from Minam, where they started the trip, Peppard said.

Read the full article on The Observer's website here.

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