Indiana woman dies in rafting accident
By Amelia A. Pridemore Beckley Register-Herald
An Indiana woman fell out of a raft and drowned during a Saturday whitewater rafting trip in Fayette County, authorities reported. Around 12:30 p.m. Saturday, a 51-year-old female customer was on a commercial whitewater rafting trip on the Upper Gauley River, said National Park Service Ranger Frank Sellers, with the New River Gorge National River. Near the Iron Ring rapid, the woman fell out of the boat, and a current pinned her against a rock. Guides from the whitewater rafting company tried to rescue the woman, but they were unable to do so, Sellers said. Numerous agencies responded to the scene for a rescue and recovery effort, Sellers said. The woman’s body was recovered at 4 p.m. Iron Ring, Sellers said, is a Class V rapid during Gauley season, but he did not know what class the rapid was Saturday.
Exactly how the woman fell out of the boat — and the accident, in general — remains under investigation by the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, Sellers said. Len Hanger, vice president of the Hico-based Songer Whitewater Inc., said the victim was from Indiana. A company release stated the body was taken to an Oak Hill funeral home, and her identity is being withheld pending family notification. “This is the first fatality we have had in our 30-year history,” Hanger said. “This has been very hard for our company and our guides to experience this. Our thoughts and our prayers are with the victim’s family at this time.” Sellers said agencies responding to the scene included the Oak Hill, Ansted and Nuttall fire departments — members of the Fayette County High-Angle Rescue Team — the state DNR and the National Park Service.
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