Accident Database

Report ID# 1056

  • Caught in Low Head Dam Hydraulic
  • Does not Apply
  • Cold Water

Accident Description

 February 7, 2006

By BILL KETTLER Medford, OR Mail Tribune

A Gold Hill man who died in a kayaking accident Sunday will be remembered for his love of paddling whitewater rivers and flying hang gliders. Timothy Tworog, 54, drowned after his boat overturned in turbulent water just below Seats Dam, about a mile west of the Rough and Ready Botanical Wayside, south of Cave Junction. "Between the two sports he was always doing one or the other,"said his wife, Jennifer. "If (the weather) wasn't flyable, he was on the river."

Josephine County sheriff's deputies said Tworog apparently lost control of his boat after he went over a low concrete dam that diverts part of Rough and Ready Creek's flow to the Rough and Ready Lumber Co. for industrial use. Tworog was caught in the "backwash" below the dam: water that recirculates around and around with a current that can be difficult to escape. "It sounds like it was just like a washing machine in there," Jennifer Tworog said. When rescuers arrived at the dam, Tworog was out of the water and one of his companions was attempting to perform CPR. Emergency medical technicians could not find a pulse, and he was pronounced dead at the scene, said Jeff Gavlik, deputy chief for the Illinois Valley Fire District.

Jennifer Tworog said her husband had 20 years' kayaking experience and had paddled Rough and Ready Creek many times. "It was one of his favorite spots," she said. Rough and Ready Creek is a tributary to the Illinois River. The water level rises and falls quickly when heavy rain falls, and it is only navigable when the water level is high and the stream is flowing fast. Tom Zulliger, an Illinois Valley volunteer firefighter and kayaker, said the 3- to 4-mile stretch of water that Tworog floated was not overly demanding for a boater with his experience. Zulliger said the water drops about three feet at the diversion dam, which is a popular swimming hole in summer when Rough and Ready Creek is little more than a trickle. A fellow glider pilot said Tworog was not afraid of taking risks, but he approached danger with caution.

"If you can call somebody who engages in extreme sports `conservative,' he was conservative," said Rodger Hoyt of Central Point. Another pilot recalled Tworog's willingness to teach others his two favorite sports. "He was my teacher," said Alden Moffatt of Ashland. "He took me into a lot of situations that I didn't think I could do and I did them." Tworog took special joy in helping newcomers, Hoyt said. "He loved to take novices out and mentor them. He'd loan them gear or give them gear. "He was a quiet introspective guy, but he had a knack for making lifelong friendships. I made a trip with him 10 years ago and he made friends with people who would come to visit him. "He had a profound sense of his mortality," Hoyt said. "He wanted to pack as much into life as he could."

Reach reporter Bill Kettler at 776-4492, or e-mail

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