Roanoke man dies while canoeing on New River
Jun 6, 2021
A Roanoke man died Saturday morning while canoeing on the New River, according to the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources. Jeffrey Wayne Nicely, 59, and a friend were canoeing on the river when they approached some rapids, said DWR spokeswoman Paige Pearson. The boat then capsized, leading both men to fall out, she said.
“One gentleman was able to [flag] down a passing boat, which got both men inside before returning to the boat ramp,” Pearson wrote in an email, adding that no lifejackets were worn. “The victim was pronounced dead at the scene by EMS.”
Pearson said the incident occurred in the McCoy area, but she didn’t provide any more specifics on the location. McCoy, which the New River passes through, is a community in Montgomery County located just north of the Radford Arsenal and west of the town of Blacksburg. The alert for the incident came through dispatch just after 10 a.m. Saturday and Nicely was pronounced dead about an hour later, Pearson said.
Liz Wilkinson via FB: I expect this happened at a ~450 ft long rapids and party spot we used to call McCoy Falls, although it's listed as "Big Falls" on the Google map. The river is more than 600 ft wide there and cuts almost perpendicularly through an uplifted rock layer that creates 2 major shelves, the upstream one the most consequential. The river is dam-controlled and during releases, what was a tame wade halfway across to some nice sunning and beer-drinking rocks becomes a football-field-long swim to shore in fast water. There are a couple of Class III spots, with one nasty little keeper right in the middle of the first shelf. A competent, sober swimmer would likely survive but might not want to do it again. When the water's up, it's a good enough training spot (with the right teacher) for the Savage and Gauley.
From Steve Weigant via FB - The traditional line is river right and is a fairly straightforward class 2 s-turn maneuver, there are some holes and at least one nasty recirculating hydraulic farther to center and river left.