Accident Database

Report ID# 3074

  • PFD Not Worn or Present
  • Does not Apply
  • Other

Accident Description

The following article was sent from InsideNPS. The article can be found at

Man Dies In Canoeing Accident

Four men headed off on a two-day canoe trip on the Big South Fork of the Cumberland River around 3 p.m. on Friday, May 15th, launching their two open canoes at the Leatherwood Ford river access. About two miles downstream, they missed their intended portage at Angel Falls Rapid and were swept into the Class IV whitewater, where both canoes overturned. All four men were washed through the rapid and emerged in a large pool of flat water. They were able to establish voice contact with each other and verified that all four had emerged from the rapid. The two members of the group who were furthest downstream secured the canoes and equipment on the west bank of the river and awaited the arrival of their two companions. They saw one of them – Tony Evans, 61, of Knoxville, Tennessee – swimming toward them, then suddenly give a shout and begin having trouble staying afloat. The two men swam to his aid and found Evans face down in the water and unresponsive. They pulled him to shore and attempted to revive him, but without success.

Evans was not wearing a lifejacket at the time.

One member of the group hiked about a quarter mile through very rugged terrain to reach a hiking trail, then followed it for about two miles upstream to Leatherwood Ford, where he used an emergency phone to call 911. Rangers Tom Barnes and Howard Duncan responded along with personnel from Scott County EMS and the county’s rescue squad. Rescue team personnel used ropes and a litter to pull Evans up a very steep and muddy river bank and carried him to a trail where an ATV was used to transport him back to an ambulance at Leatherwood Ford. He was taken to a local ER, where he was pronounced dead. An autopsy is pending. Barnes was the incident commander and is the investigating ranger.

Contact Information
Name: Frank Graham, Chief Ranger

Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area C2 Missed Angle Falls portage takeout swept into rapids No life jacket

Officials of Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area Oneida, TN (2009-05-15) An elderly Knoxville man reportedly suffered fatal injuries Friday afternoon in a boating accident on the waters of the Big South Fork of the Cumberland River.

A Friday afternoon canoe trip down the Big South Fork has reportedly ended in the tragic death of a Knoxville man. A group of four men that were attempting to navigate the waters of the Big South Fork near the Angel Falls Rapids reportedly were tossed from their canoe and ended up in the swift moving water. After being tossed overboard, the victim, identified as Tony Evans, thought to be about 60, reportedly swam, with assistance, to the shore; however, soon thereafter, reportedly abruptly stopped breathing. The direct cause of his death is unknown; however, he may have suffered serious internal injuries after striking an object in the water.

Due to the remote location of the accident, the Scott County Rescue Squad was called to the scene to remove the body. The Scott County Ambulance Service also responded and aided in the recovery effort. Rangers from the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area are investigating.

Knoxvillian dies after being swept through rapid; family awaits autopsy

Associated Press
Originally published 01:56 p.m., May 18, 2009

ONEIDA, Tenn. - A Knoxville man has died in the Cumberland River in East Tennessee after canoeists missed their planned take-out point and were swept through a Class 4 rapid.

Officials of Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area identified the victim today as 61-year-old Tony Evans, who they said died in the incident Friday.

A news release said Evans was one of four people who launched two open canoes at Leatherwood Ford to begin a two-day trip downriver. They intended to portage their canoes around Angel Falls Rapid, about two miles from where they began, but missed their spot and were swept through the whitewater after their canoes overturned. Evans' companions got him to shore, but were unable to revive him.

Rangers said Evans was not wearing a life jacket. Evans' daughter, Amanda Evans, said Monday the family is awaiting the results of an autopsy for the cause of his death. Amanda Evans said the family doubts he drowned because he was doing a backstroke before he was pulled from the water. More details as they develop online and in Tuesday's Knoxville News Sentinel.

Join AW and support river stewardship nationwide!