Accident Database

Report ID# 1139

  • Equipment Trap
  • Near Drowning
  • Physical Trauma
  • Other

Accident Description


            “There was a near drowning on Southern California’s Kern River . It happened on the Limestone run on July 20, 1997. The water was flowing at 920 cfs which makes this Class IV run quite bony. Rob Zimmerman and Dwight Parker were fairly experienced boaters. They had older kayaks with small round cockpits. Jonathan Zirkle and another man were using sit-on-tops and had very little experience. Since Rob had the most experience, he would run the rapids first, catch an eddy and guide the others down.

            “Joe’s Diner is rated Class IV because of some nasty holes on the right. Below the holes are some rocks which create broach and sieve problems. Rob ran first and caught an eddy on the right side, below the two holes. After his party ran the rapid, he drifted to the right, got sideways, and pinned between a rock and the cliffs on the shore.

  “He maintained an downstream lean for about two minutes before slowly flipping upstream. It’s not clear if the flip was intentional.  Rob tried to release himself from the boat but the force of the water pushed his back against his deck and pinned him in the boat. He is 6’2”, so it was difficult for him to pull his legs out of the small cockpit. He remained pinned underwater for about 1 ½ minutes before Dwight could extricate him. In another four to five minutes he was pulled to shore and resuscitated with CPR. He’s doing fine now, with the exception of some leg pain from trying to push out of the cockpit. He’s going to get rid of those old boats and get some new ones with larger cockpits.”       

SOURCE: Rocky Contos, posting to

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