Accident Database

Report ID# 1024

  • Flush Drowning
  • Hypothermia
  • Near Drowning
  • Cold Water
  • High Water
  • One Boat Trip

Accident Description

In the spring of 1986 a group of two boaters who had rafted the Lehigh River (Class II-III) and the Tohickon at a lower level launched their raft from StoverPark at a level of 4 feet. The river is relentless at this level, with numerous large stoppers. As they approached the site of the annual kayak races at BucksCountyPark (Mile-Long Rapid) their two man raft was half-full of water. Entering the drop, they got caught in a large hole formed by the top ledge. One of the paddlers was not wearing a wetsuit. He jumped out of the raft to act as a downstream anchor to pull the raft free and took a long, nasty swim. The other paddler, his cousin, only had wetsuit pants. He followed moments later when the raft capsized. Both were taken to DoylestownHospital and treated for hypothermia. The raft was recovered by local police and returned to them a few days later.

SOURCE: Matt O’Donnell

ANALYSIS: In the words of the victim, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. The two were not equipped or experienced for the river at that level; the small raft and absence of a wetsuit or a drysuit put them at a serious risk in the event of a capsizing The kayakers present at the race probably saved their lives. My guess is that they will be more careful in the future.

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