Accident Database

Report ID# 115205

  • Swim into Rock or Sieve
  • Does not Apply
  • Other

Accident Description

A commercial trip had an accident in Lost Paddle Rapid on the Gauley River on Friday, September 10th. The Lead boat flipped against the big rock left-center at Hawaii 5-0 (Second Drop). Victim swam to the left, pinned in far left chute in Tumble Home (4th drop). Body was caught in the slot and folded over. PFD stayed on. Dam release was cut back so the extraction could take place.

Stephen Wright/ Fayetteville Whitewater via FB

Info for all Gauley boaters re: Tumblehome who haven't seen it at low water--The entire rapid's river bed is basically a rock jumble/sieve pile.  The left half of the river is definitely worse, but top right and center isn't pretty either.  Once you're half way down it's much cleaner.  The good news is that most of those bad rocks are well-covered and deep underwater at fall flows (with the exception of the crack/sieves at the middle left near the start of the rapid).  The real danger here is to swimmers coming from upstream.  SO if you're with anyone who swims 2nd or 3rd drop Lost Paddle, it needs to be known that they should do everything they can to swim to shore before Tumblehome.  While there are several lines that can be safely run and enjoyed in a kayak or raft, anyone swimming into the rapid from above is at major risk.  Stay safe!

Dave Bassage via FB

I've learned a bit more since I first spoke to Charlie about this, based on conversations with those directly involved.
First, this was indeed the same location as where Bob Taylor body pinned. I was mistaken about Bob's pin location. It's right against the shore at the brink of what many of us call "Little Niagara" in Tumblehome. Peyton Love filmed an excellent video of low water lines and hazards on the Gauley and everything from the 14:00 to 14:40 mark includes this sieve.
Also, the victim's life jacket did eventually wash off after roughly an hour and a half, but it showed no wear or damage. It sounds like his lower extremity was trapped in the sieve in at least one or two places: perhaps one leg here, one ankle there, but regardless it took extremely low water and hours of effort to free him, at which point he flushed through the sieve.
The raft was the lead raft in the trip and attempting to get right of "six pack" or "decision" rock after going right of Hawaii 5-0 wave in second drop(generally considered a conservative line - the line we used to take in the bucket boat era) and flipped off the right side of the rock. Other rafts in the trip gave chase but were unable to get to the victim in time.

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