Table: Whitewater Fatalities 1975-2005

posted February 5, 2006
by Charles Walbridge

 WHITEWATER ACCIDENTS  THROUGH THE YEARS

Reported to American Whitewater 1975-2005
 

Year

Kayak

& C-1

Open

Canoe

      Rafts

(Com)(Priv)(I-K)

Other

Total

1975

    1

 

 

 

    1

1976

  

 

 

 

    0

1977

    1

 

 

 

    1

1978

    2

 

 

 

    2

1979

    1

 

 

 

    1

1980

    1

 

 

 

    1

1981

 

    1

 

 

    1

1982

    8

    1

 

 

    9

1983

    2

 

          2

 

    4

1984

    1

    1

 

 

    2

1985

    3

 

          1

 

    4

1986

    9

 

          4

 

  13

1987

    3

    2

          2

 

    7

1988

    4

    3

          2

 

    9

1989

    6

    3

          3

    1

  13

1990

  11

    6

          1

 

  18

1991

    4

    1

          2

 

    7

1992

    5

    1

          1

 

    7

1993

    4

    2

          1

 

    7

1994

    8

    5

  6

  5

 2

 

  26

1995

  10

    5

10

16

 1

    1

  38

1996

  13

    2

  4

15

 

    3

  37

1997

  20

    5

  2

  4

 

    1

  32

1998

  21

    7

10

16

 1

    3

  51

1999

  15

    5

  3

11

 

    4

  38

2000

  18

  11

15

12

 2

    1

  48

2001

  20

    9

  1

13

 2

    2

  37

2002

  12

    8

  2

  6

 1

    1

  30

2003

  20

  15

  2

  6

 1

    8

  58

2004

  17

    4

  6

  6

 2

    6

  41

2005

  10

    6

  7

12

 

    3

  38

NB: American Whitewater has never been able to track all moving water accidents. We do hear about most deaths involving experienced kayakers and think that our “kayak” numbers are pretty accurate.

The total number of whitewater paddlers was very small in the 70's and AW's accident reporting program was just getting started. The sport grew quickly towards the end of the decade then doubled three times in the 80’s and 90's. We think increased participation accounts for much of the increase in accidents. The increase in the number of canoeing and rafting accidents reported to AW since 1994 is due mainly to the effectiveness of Internet-based reporting.

According to U.S. Coast Guard statistics, paddlesport deaths have not increased much since the mid-70’s. See Jennifer Plyler's National accident Study for an explaination. Note that although the Coast Guard records are more complete than ours because states are required to report accidents to them, we have reports on some accidents they missed.

AW Accident Database

Deaths By State

1975 - 2005

Alabama 

8

Alaska   

17

Arizona

9

Arkansas

5

California

79

Colorado

77

Connecticut

5

Delaware

0

DC

0

Florida

0

Georgia

18

Hawaii

0

Idaho

41

Illinois

6

Indiana

6

Iowa

1

Kansas

2

Kentucky

5

Louisiana

0

Maine

10

Maryland

10

Massachusetts

6

Michigan

7

Minnesota

3

Mississippi

0

Missouri

2

Montana

18

Nebraska

0

Nevada

2

New Hampshire

11

New Jersey

12

New Mexico

10

New York

32

North Carolina

22

North Dakota

0

Ohio

12

Oklahoma

0

Oregon

19

Pennsylvania

43

Rhode Island

1

South Carolina

6

South Dakota

0

Tennessee

27

Texas

10

Utah

15

Vermont

4

Virginia

14

Washington

42

West Virginia

51

Wisconsin

7

 

State Ranking

For Reported

Whitewater Accidents

1975 - 2005

1. California          

79

2. Colorado           

77

3. West Virginia    

51

4. Pennsylvania    

43

5. Washington      

42

6. Idaho                 

41

7. New York         

32

8. North Carolina 

22

9. Montana            

18

10.            

18

States with large population centers near
whitewater rivers have the most paddling
activity, and the most accidents.

10 States

With No Reported

Whitewater Accidents

1975 - 2005

Delaware

DC   

Florida

Hawaii       

Louisiana 

Mississippi 

Nebraska 

North Dakota 

Oklahoma    

South Dakota

These are states with little or no
whitewater within their borders.