Accident Database

Report ID# 2012

  • Swim into Strainer
  • Does not Apply
  • High Water
  • One Boat Trip

Accident Description

From Mansfield News Journal 7/19/06

LOUDONVILLE -- Kara McCue came to Mohican Forest State Park for a wonderful family reunion before returning for her senior year at Indiana Wesleyan University. McCue, 21, was a nursing major who planned a career of helping others in need. Those plans ended Monday in the cold, swollen waters of the Clear Fork deep inside the state park, where McCue drowned after her canoe tipped after striking a submerged log. Her husband,

Luke, 23, survived by making it to shore and scrambling to get help for his young wife. But a lengthy search and potential rescue effort came to an end at 11 a.m. Tuesday when McCue's body was found about 25 yards from where the canoe turned over. Luke McCue told Malabar Farm State Park Manager Louis Andres he tried to grab his wife by her life jacket, but it came off.

"We loved her dearly," said Marion, Ind., resident Anna Schenk, Kara's grandmother. "She was a very quiet person and she was looking forward to her graduation. (She and her husband) were going to move back to Indianapolis and they were going to move back to be closer to her mother and dad." The Ashland County Sheriff's Department Dive Team found McCue's body under an accumulation of debris. The cause of death was drowning, according to Ashland County Coroner Dr. William Emery.

After the canoe overturned in the swollen river about one and one half miles downstream from the Covered Bridge, Luke McCue reached shore, borrowed a bicycle and peddled down a hiking path to the Mohican State Park Class A campground, where he found a telephone. The stretch of river is usually only ankle-deep, but has been 4 or 5 feet deeper than normal with a much stronger current because of last week's powerful storms, Andres said.

Andres said the McCues, who were married a year ago, were experienced and wearing life jackets when they put their canoe in the Clear Fork on Monday afternoon. He said both could swim. "They were in the wrong place at the wrong time," he said. "I don't think they knew just what they were getting into." Currently the river is listed in "red" condition, and all canoe liveries are closed -- as they have been since last week's flooding rains, Andres said.

Mohican State Park Manager Jim O'Brien said his personnel have been warning people off the river. But he said anyone who wants to put their kayak or canoe in the river can do so legally. O'Brien said park personnel had to warn off youngsters who planned to launch small rafts or inner tubes Tuesday. Some were not wearing life jackets. The real problem was not just high water but debris. "An entire hillside came down into the river and it simply can't be portaged," State Watercraft Officer Carl Vance said. "There are huge 'strainers' in the river that you can't get around. If it were just high water a trained canoer or kayaker could get through. But the river is impassible at some points." More than 20 divers, including members of the Loudonville and Perrysville fire departments, probed debris, Andres said. 419-521-7269

Originally published July 19, 2006

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