LAMBERTVILLE WING DAM CLAIMS CANOEIST
May 21, 1989
Robert Eschelman, 32, paddling tandem and accompanied by a second tandem canoe, drowned in the large waves in the rapids near Lambertville on the Delaware River. The river was running extremely high, (estimated at over 15,000 cfs) and 5-7' waves are not uncommon. Although the victim was wearing a life vest, it was not enough to keep him alive. Local rescue squads chased his body two miles downstream; he was transported to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
SOURCE: AMC Paddle Splashes
ANALYSIS: This rapid, a mile-long Class II in summer, becomes a big water class III+ at high water. Even expert tandem canoe paddlers had best be careful here, and I suspect the second boat had their hands full, and was in no position to offer assistance. The river is over a half mile wide here, and there are no eddies. Swamped paddlers can expect to be washed a long way. Canoes without flotation become completely unmanageable when swamped. Hypothermia is the real risk here because of the length immersion, and probably contributed to this drowning.