Accident Database

Report ID# 3218

  • Swim into Rock or Sieve
  • Does not Apply
  • Other

Accident Description

Name Released in Third Gauley River Death

Posted Friday, October 2, 2009 ; 08:00 PM |

30-year-old Indiana man died on the river Friday.

Story by Doug Fritz

FAYETTEVILLE -- A whitewater rafting accident on the Upper Gauley River claimed the life of an Indiana man. The 30-year-old Shane Loveall from the town of Fishers was on a trip with Oak Hill based, American Canadian Expeditions, Limited. A group of seven rafts entered the rapid known as "Lost Paddle" at noon. Loveall reportedly fell from his raft and was pinned underwater. After he was pulled from the water, emergency responders attempted to revive him. He was later flown to Summersville Memorial Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 1:28 p.m. The incident remains under investigation my the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources and the National Park Service.

Loveall is the third person to have died during the 2009 Gauley rafting season. Last Sunday, 32-year-old Eric Hampton of Louisville, Kentucky died after falling out of a raft on a rapid called Pillow Rock. Officials say he was conscious after being pulled from the water, but experienced trouble breathing. On September 12th, 40-year-old Eric Clark of Circleville, Ohio died of what appears to be cardiac arrest after he fell into the water on a Class V rapid. Gauley season ends on Bridge Day, October 18th. Officials say this is the deadliest season they've experienced on the river. Copyright 2009 West Virginia Media. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


Third Gauley rafting death sets grim record

From Staff Reports

The third fatality of the 2009 Gauley River whitewater rafting season was reported Friday, this one claiming the life of an Indiana man, National Park Service officials said. It is believed to be the first time three people have died in a single Gauley season. Friday’s victim was a 30-year-old man from Fishers, Ind., the park service said. His identity was being withheld pending family notification. The accident occurred around noon when one of seven rafts from Oak Hill-based American Canadian Expeditions Ltd. entered Lost Paddle, one of five Class V rapids on the Upper Gauley, the park service said. The victim fell from the raft and became pinned under water.

When the man was pulled from the water, CPR was initiated, the park service said. Responders from the park service, the Ansted Volunteer Fire Department and Jan-Care Ambulance utilized an automatic external defibrillator and assisted in rescue efforts. The victim was transported by HealthNet helicopter to Summersville Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 1:28 p.m., the park service said. The park service and the state Division of Natural Resources are conducting the investigation.

Just last Sunday, 32-year-old Eric L. Hampton of Louisville, Ky., also on an American Canadian Expeditions trip, died after the raft he was in caught the corner of a rock and overturned at Pillow Rock, another Class V rapid. The guide managed to upright the raft and get the passengers back in, but Hampton began to experience breathing difficulty and became unresponsive. He died about 90 minutes later at Summersville Memorial. On Sept. 12, Eric Clark, 40, of Circleville, Ohio, died while rafting with Adventure West Virginia Resort. Clark, three other rafters and their guide were thrown into the river when their raft struck a large wave in the Class V Insignificant rapid. Clark was pulled into another raft, but then began exhibiting medical difficulties and apparently went into cardiac arrest. He was pronounced dead at Summersville Memorial.


The 22-day Gauley season began Sept. 11 and ends Oct. 18, Bridge Day weekend.


Bluefield (WVVA) - Authorities have released the name of the drowning victim who was killed while rafting on the Upper Gauley River over the weekend. Chuck Noll with the National Park Service says 30-year-old Shane Loveall, of Fishers, Indiana, died at Summersville Memorial Hospital on Friday. According to Noll, the victim fell from the raft into a class five rapid named Lost Paddle, and was pinned under the water. The Gauley whitewater season has been open for fewer than three weeks, and Loveall's death mark's the third fatality in as many weeks.


Sounds like the raft ended-up in the channel between "the boof" line far left (that lands next to the hugely undercut left wall), and the main lines down the right.  This is near the top of the Tumblehome drop where most kayakers eddy out left (above a cool cartwheel hole), then ferry hard right to start the rapid.  There's a horrible crack/undercut/slot in the middle, which could be a consequence if someone really blows the right-to-left ferry that many Gauley paddlers don't know about.  Most of the flow goes under a rock.  I've been through it before I knew it was there and it's awful--banged-up and 10 seconds upside-down wiggling before I flushed in my boat.

Word in Fayetteville is that the raft went through there.

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