Two die in water accidents in region
By Ariel Zangla, Daily Freeman.com, Kingston, NY 07/17/2007
A woman drowned over the weekend while kayaking on the Esopus Creek in Shandaken. Elaine A. Dier, 52, of Elizaville, was kayaking on the Esopus with her husband, Kevin, and friends on Sunday afternoon when her kayak overturned in the swift current under the state Route 28 bridge, state police at Ulster said. Police said her kayak became pinned under a tree that was lodged against the center bridge abutment. Mrs. Dier was unconscious and not breathing when her husband and the other kayakers reached her from the shoreline and tried to free her, police said.
Police said they received a 911 call at 12:47 p.m. and troopers responded to the bridge, which crosses the Esopus Creek just west of the intersection with state Route 212. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation was started at the scene before Mrs. Dier was taken by Shandaken Ambulance to Benedictine Hospital in Kingston, police said. Mrs. Dier was pronounced dead at the hospital. Police said she had been wearing a floatation vest and protective headgear at the time of the accident. Mrs. Dier, a mother of two, was employed as a manager for Bank of America at its tax processing division in the town of Ulster. She and her husband had been married 26 years.
TEXT ATTACHMENTS This is below the whitewater section. Strainers have been a problem since the big flood a few years ago. Lauren Cook, KCCNY
A members of my club (KCCNY) forwarded the message and picture below relating to the drowning on Esopus Creek on July 15. The Coldbrook gauge which is not far downstream of the Mt. Tremper Bridge was running around 767cfs with the release this weekend. The attached picture was taken today with flow at the gauge in the 310-320cfs range. The difficulty was in the I-II range. Lauren is correct this is below the whitewater section used by advanced boaters but is a section used for training beginner to novice level boaters. Strainers have been a probelm for the Esopus since before the flood of April 2005. The bottom of this creek is loose sand and clay and constantly erodes. You may recall that a kayaker and a tuber drowned in seperate incidents in either 2000 or 2001.
Thank you for continuing to collect accident data so we can learn and hopefully avoid so many drownings in the future. Dave King, KCCNY The spot she got caught in isn't normally difficult at all. With the levels we had over the weekend (750 cfs at Cold Brook) there shouldn't have been anything more than some moderate current and small (under 1 foot) waves. It's been a year since I've done that section, and that was at 1700 cfs. A friend went right with no problems, but I think the obvious route is center of the left channel.
There were 5 people on the trip, the victim and her husband, another couple and another man. There was also at least one person driving the route, with the children of the other couple. It seems that the group wasn't sure where they would fish, or if the entire group would continue at any point. Their last stop before the incident was at the state parking area on 28, and it sounds like the victim had considered taking out, because she wasn't sure she was sufficiently experienced. It sounds like the plan was to paddle through the center span of the bridge, which has 2 piers between the abutments, and the victim was the third one down. The others initially tried to paddle back upstream, then went to the shore (presumably river left), which is large rip rap (similar to, but smaller than at RR rapids). It took multiple attempts until they were able to swim to to where she was pinned. They were able to extricate her without difficulty once they got to her, but by them 10 minutes had elapsed.
The strainer is definitely very nasty and could easily get an inexperienced paddler who chooses the center span. My guess would be that she made a late decision to switch which side of the bridge she wanted to take and didn't get far enough left or right. I'm assuming she capsized as a result of being swept into the strainer, rather than beforehand. It's also possible that the tree is fairly large and blocks enough of the channel to be a problem, or maybe she simply flipped at just the wrong time and in the wrong spot.
The 3 kayaks belonging to the vcitim and the two rescuers are still missing. A man unfamiliar with kayaking, said the two boats he did see are different than mine; sort of like pontoons on a seaplane. I'm figuring they're some kind of recreational boat, but perhaps they could also be something like a Dagger GT or a Diesel. If I have time in the next day or two maybe I'll go looking for them. This happened just a day after I watched that tuber go under the log without so much as a pause.
Steve McLuckie, KCCNY