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Accident Description

 had worked four days on the Gauley, doing a "Marathon" each day (all 24 miles encompassing the upper and lower Gauley). Common sense would have suggested that I take a day or more off and rest. Arrogance took over, however. My friend and I decided to enjoy a day on the lower new. I had a brand new Blade and wanted to try it out. The new boat was different. I was not a highly experienced kayaker, though I had been a guide for ACE Whitewater for about six or seven years. I was a Trip Leader on the Upper Gauley and was also a Wilderness First Responder and former Army medic.

I entered Lower Keeney too far river left and hit the eddy line above wash-up rock. Not used to the low volume stern, I stern squirted and was upside down. As I set up to roll, the lights went out. All I can really remember was the impact of what seemed like a baseball bat on my shoulder and head. I was unconcious. My boating partner paddled over (he was setting safety at the bottom of the rapid, just river right above "The Halls of Karma". He popped my spray skirt and pulled me out of my boat.

I came -to and had serious double vision. I still held onto my paddle in my right hand and tried to grab the back of his boat with my left. That was when I realized that my shoulder was trashed. My boating partner pulled me over to river right, retrieved my boat and we reduced my dislocation there. The river had sucked my Tevas out of my boat and I was barefoot. We stashed the boats and hiked out of the gorge. I had such a bad head injury that I couldn't speak or form words for an hour. I was in shock. We got to Fayette Station and drove to a friend's house, who was a nurse.

Since I was a guide, I didn't have health insurance and didn't want to go to the hospital. The friend suggested I go anyway. Good call. I had a 3rd degree separated left shoulder. We had successfully reduced the dislocation. Then, I got 18 stitches in the back of my head. This effectively ended my river career. Cause of the accident: Arrogance, pure and simple. Just plain arrogance. I have neglected to post this for some time, because I didn't know about this site.

Stewart Lassetter, witness.