Accident Database

Report ID# 26

  • Pinned in Boat against Rock or Sieve
  • Does not Apply
  • Other

Accident Description

This incident occurred in Lower Railroad Rapid, which contains several bad undercut rocks that appear at low water. On June 29, 1985 a group of seven Lehigh River guides put in at Cunard a short distance above this drop. When they reached Lower Railroad, a paddler familiar with the drop described the route, warned of the pinning hazard, and ran. Four other kayakers ran successfully. Then Joe Fleming, 29, attempted the run. His line was too far to the left and he pinned almost vertically against a badly undercut rock.

Water was breaking over Mr. Fleming's head, but he had an air bubble and could still breathe. He extended his arm above the water. A rope hit his hand, but he could not hold on. This continued for 109-12 minutes. Members of his group attempted to reach the site but were thwarted by the fast, channelized current.

An outfitter arrived and radioed for help. A member of the group was able to ride a raft close to the rock and jump on it. He tied a rope to the kayak's grab loop, ab three people on river right were able to pull it free. Joe was pulled from the boat and CPR began immediately. He had been under for about 25 minutes. Park service rangers and paramedics arrived; he was transported to Plateau Medical Center wherehe was pronounced dead.

Source: A report written by Dr. Larry Skinner, Guide Trainer for Whitewater Challengers

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