Accident Database

Report ID# 2608

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  • Caught in Low Head Dam Hydraulic
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Accident Description

 Student describes his rescue

Brattleboro Reformer/ AP

Monday, April 21 KEENE, N.H. (AP) -- A Keene State College student who got caught in a river current after going over a low-head dam in an inflatable pool has been released from the hospital and is doing fine, his friends said. Alex Perry was treated for exhaustion and hypothermia after he and a friend tried to maneuver the Ashuelot River Park falls in the kiddie pool Friday evening. The pair had spent the afternoon floating along the river's lazy current as it winds through the campus and debated for a while whether to go over the falls, said sophomore Samuel Wood, 21, of Laconia, who decided at the last minute to head for shore instead. Perry, 18, and Corey Loonan, 19, headed over the falls. Wood said a crowd gathered, with some urging them to go for it and others warning that the falls were more dangerous than they looked. Perry of Westborough, Mass., ended up spending the night in the hospital after being trapped within the rushing current for at least 10 minutes. "We really thought it would be fine, even when we were going over," said Loonan of Sandwich, Mass. A certified lifeguard, Loonan managed to swim to shore shortly after the pool capsized. Rescue personnel from the Keene Fire Department were able to pull Perry to safety after he bobbed in and out of the water several times, finally surfacing just feet from their boat. They also had to rescue a woman who jumped in to try to save him.

Copyright © 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

College student describes river rescue

Monday, April 21, 2008
KEENE, N.H. (AP) - A Keene State College student who got caught in a
river current after going over a dam in an inflatable pool has been
released from the hospital and is doing fine, his friends said.

Alex Perry was treated for exhaustion and hypothermia after he and a
friend tried to maneuver the Ashuelot River Park falls in the kiddie
pool Friday evening. The pair had spent the afternoon floating along
the river's lazy current as it winds through the campus and debated
for a while whether to go over the falls, said sophomore Samuel Wood,
21, of Laconia, who decided at the last minute to head for shore
instead.

Perry, 18, and Corey Loonan, 19, headed over the falls. Wood said a
crowd gathered, with some urging them to go for it and others warning
that the falls were more dangerous than they looked.

"Nobody wanted to tell us to stop beforehand. It was right when we
were about to go over that they started saying we should get out," he
said.

Perry of Westborough, Mass., ended up spending the night in the
hospital after being trapped within the rushing current for at least
10 minutes.

"We really thought it would be fine, even when we were going over,"
said Loonan of Sandwich, Mass. A certified lifeguard, Loonan managed
to swim to shore shortly after the pool capsized.

Rescue personnel from the Keene Fire Department were able to pull
Perry to safety after he bobbed in and out of the water several
times, finally surfacing just feet from their boat. They also had to
rescue a woman who jumped in to try to save him.

Loonan said Perry's mother didn't sound very surprised to hear of his
misadventure.

"She said he does stupid stuff all the time," Loonan said.

None of the students had heard of Mark Boucher, 33, of Ashburnham,
Mass., the kayaker who is still listed in critical condition at
Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center after being trapped under the
falls on April 6. Boucher had not gone over the falls, but was pulled
in when his kayak capsized below them.


http://www.sunjournal.com/story/261779-
3/National/NH_student_rescued_from_river_after_stunt/

N.H. student rescued from river after stunt

Sunday, April 20, 2008
KEENE, N.H. (AP) - A Keene State College student from Massachusetts
is lucky to be alive after floating over a dam in an inflatable
kiddie pool, and getting trapped in the churning current.

Keene firefighters grabbed the exhausted student as he sank in the
frigid river Friday evening. They also had to rescue a woman who
jumped in to try to save him.

"He went over the dam, got caught in the turbulent water and was
clinging to the pool," said Deputy Fire Chief Mark Boynton. "When you
get in (the swirling current), you can't get out."

Boynton said two people were in the kiddie pool, intending to float
over the dam, when one bailed out. The other, Alex Perry, 19, of
Westborough, Mass., went over and got trapped in the churning water
at Ashuelot River Park.

As firefighters inflated their special rescue boat, a woman who was
watching jumped into the 40-degree water and began swimming toward
the struggling teen, Boynton said.

"She said she couldn't watch him drown," he said.

The well-intentioned gesture complicated the rescue, because
firefighters had to rescue the woman on their way to the teen. Her
extra weight in the boat made it difficult to maneuver through
the "boil" of water below the dam.

As the firefighters fought to get to him, Perry either let go out of
exhaustion, or was yanked away from his float by the current.

"A witness saw him churn in the boil three times before he
resurfaced," said Boynton. Perry popped up about 15 feet in front of
the boat, but couldn't stay afloat.

"He went under four more times before getting to the boat," Boynton
said. "They reached into the water and managed to grab his hand."

The woman apparently was not injured. Boynton said when they got to
shore, she left, but told bystanders she was fine and glad the teen
had been rescued.

Boynton said the area is so dangerous that rescuers often train there
for swift-water rescues.

He said the dam doesn't look like much, with a three- or four-foot
drop this time of year, when the river is high.

"That's what leads you to being deceived," he said. "With all that
water going over ... it's just moving in circular motion that you
can't get out of."

The current pulls victims toward the dam and holds them there, he
said.

On April 6, kayaker Mark Boucher, 33, of Ashburnham, Mass., was
pulled under after his boat capsized close to the dam.

He still is in critical condition at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical
Center.

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