Accident Database

Report ID# 100623

  • PFD Not Worn or Present
  • Does not Apply
  • Inadequate Equipment

Accident Description

Police: 1 person died after kayak overturned on James River

By Associated Press

June 3, 2020 at 10:01 a.m. EDT

LYNCHBURG, Va. — One person died and several others were rescued after their kayaks overturned on the James River in western Virginia. The News & Advance in Lynchburg reports that the incident happened Sunday near Balcony Falls, which is by the western edge of Amherst and Bedford counties.

Stephen Ritchie, a conservation police officer with the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, said water levels were above average. That part of the river had become dangerous with fast rapids and exposed rock. Ritchie said that Holly Padgett, 29, of Harrisonburg, appears to have drowned. But he said he’s waiting for confirmation from a medical examiner.

He said that Padgett had a life jacket with her but was not wearing it. He said people going out on the river should wear a life jacket, especially when the water is high.

Amherst Fire Department is with Josh Cangi and 5 others.Like Page

5/31/2020: At 15:46, Amherst Communications alerted Amherst County’s Swiftwater Team for the mutual aid response to Balcony Falls on the James River with Bedford County SOC and Glasgow Fire Department. Initial dispatch information reported a possible drowning with CPR in progress. Glasgow Fire Department happened to be present in the area during training evolutions at the time of incidence and reached the patient’s location first. Chief 5 arrived and established modified command after collaboration with Glasgow units. Amherst Fire Department’s Boat 11, Monelison Fire Department’s Boat 21, as well as a Bedford County Boat with SOC personnel were requested to launch for assistance. One patient was removed from the river and transported to the hospital in critical condition. While teams were operating on the river, it was noted that two additional victims unrelated to the above incident had capsized and were stranded. Units reached the two victims who were not injured and transported them down river to the Snowden boat ramp. All units cleared without incidence.

ROCKBRIDGE COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ7)-- A woman died at a hospital Sunday after being found unresponsive in the James River. Crews received a report of a water rescue emergency around 5:20 p.m. According to the Virginia Department of Inland Fisheries, the victim's kayak overturned after hitting something in the river in the Balcony Falls area. She was wearing a life jacket at the time. Officials at the scene tried to revive her and proceeded to take her to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

She was part of a group, and a total of three victims were removed from the river, according to the Forest Fire Department.  Crews from Big Island, Glasgow and Bedford County responded. Emergency officials pointed out the James River is up right now, and the current is faster than usual.

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