Accident Database

Report ID# 2624

  • Flush Drowning
  • Does not Apply
  • Other

Accident Description

May 20, 2008 Man dies in New River rafting accident

By The Associated Press

FAYETTEVILLE -- The National Park Service says a 70-year-old Oklahoma man died today in a rafting accident on the New River. New River Gorge National River spokesman Gary Hartley says the man's name is being withheld until relatives are notified. Hartley says the man fell overboard in Middle Keeney rapid. He was recovered about three minutes later, but he wasn't breathing and guides from River Expeditions were unable to revive him, Hartley said.

Today's death was West Virginia's second fatal whitewater accident in less than a week. A New York woman drowned on the Cheat River on Saturday. NB: The man was not in the water for long, and had a history of heart trouble. It is possible that cardiac problems caused this death.

70-year-old Okla. man dies during rafting trip

Matthew Hill
Beckley Register-Herald Reporter

The New River claimed the life of a 70-year-old rafter from Oklahoma Tuesday, the National Park Service reported.

The man, whose identity was being withheld pending notification of his extended family, was on a commercial rafting trip with about a dozen people when the incident occurred around 1 p.m., according to Chief Ranger Gary Hartley of the New River Gorge National River.

“They were going through Middle Keeneys Rapid when he (the deceased) went out of the boat. He swam through Lower Keeneys Rapid and through Dudley’s Dip. When they recovered him, he wasn’t breathing. The guides and the individuals on the trip began CPR immediately but were unable to revive him,” Hartley explained.

Hartley emphasized the death was not yet being treated as a drowning. “The cause of death has not been determined. We’re not assuming it was a drowning. The body has been sent to the (Fayette County) medical examiner. He may refer it to the state (medical examiner).”

Hartley also declined to name the local whitewater rafting outfitter that was involved. He added he intended to identify the man sometime today.

NPS officials were assisted at the scene by General and Jan-Care ambulance services, along with state Division of Natural Resources personnel and volunteer firefighters from Ansted and Nuttall.

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