Ronald B. Sley, age 77, was paddling solo when he became caught in the backwash of a low head dam northwest of Damascus, VA on May 16th. Mr. Sley was a Class 3-5 paddler who had paddled all over the world. He often paddled solo and had run this section before. He was wearing a PFD and helmet and scouted the drop before running according to investigators. Water levels that day were low.
Witnesses called 911; Sley recirculated face down in the hydraulic for some time before floating free. Firefighters arrived; launched a raft; recovered his body. There might have been a heart attack or other health problem.