Accident Database

Report ID# 3346

  • Flush Drowning
  • Does not Apply
  • High Water

Accident Description

Missing Kayaker on Consumnes River

Leon Wescombe approximately 29 years and resident of Australia

Published on Jun 14, 2010 - 2:05:07 PM

By: El Dorado County Sheriff's Office June 14, 2010 -

Leon was kayaking on the middle fork of the Consumes River in the Grizzly Flats area. Leon and the other kayakers were very experienced and had the proper equipment. The group was making their way down the river when Leon rolled upside down and when he righted himself the river funneled him into the next set of treacherous rapids. The fellow kayakers watched as Leon entered the rapids and did not see him exit. The Sheriff's Office responded to the remote area to assist in rescuing Leon. The area was searched from the shore and air (CHP H-20), but Leon could not be located. Search efforts were suspended at approximately 6 PM. The Sheriff's dive team is meeting to plan and coordinate the next set of efforts to locate Leon.


From ABC news site - 
Tasmanian kayaker presumed dead in Californian rapids 

Californian police searching for a Tasmanian man missing in whitewater rapids think they have spotted his kayak, but the conditions are too dangerous to get closer. Leon Wescombe, 29, is missing presumed dead after he was swept under the water during a kayaking expedition with friends on the Cosumnes River, east of Sacramento. 

Lieutenant Bryan Golmitz from El Dorado County thinks they have found Mr Wescombe's red kayak but cannot get to it.  "We're going to have to wait until the river flow decreases before we can get divers into that general area, because it's very treacherous," he said.  Lieutenant Golmitz says the kayak is under several feet of fast-moving water. "If he's [been trapped] and stayed with his kayak, unfortunately it's more than likely going to be a recovery," he said. 

"Right now we couldn't see if the missing person is down there with the kayak, we could only see the colour." 

Lieutenant Golmitz says the group was well organised and prepared for the conditions but the river was running higher and faster than normal because of a thaw from the heavy snow that fell during winter. 
The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs says its officials in San Francisco are liaising with local authorities on the search effort. 

Mr Wescombe's friends are desperately waiting for news. 

His housemate Nathan Chilcott says he has been in contact with friends who were travelling with the 29 year old at the time.  "Basically, unfortunately they have to wait for the water levels to subside before they can extract his's just a waiting game unfortunately so it must be really hard for them." 

Mr Wescombe's Facebook page has become a public memorial, with family and friends posting dozens of messages and tributes. 

Difficult wait for kayaker's family 

The father of a Tasmanian man who is believed to have drowned in a Californian river says his son was a skilled whitewater kayaker. Leon Wescombe, 29, from Hobart disappeared into rapids during a kayaking expedition on the Cosumnes River near Sacramento on Sunday.  Police think they have spotted his kayak but have to wait at least 48 hours for the water level to recede before they can get close.


EL DORADO COUNTY, CA - Search crews scoured the middle fork of the Cosumnes River in El Dorado County Sunday for any sign of a kayaker who was reported missing, according to an El Dorado County Sheriff's spokesman. The missing person was last seen around 2 p.m. Sunday on the river near Lower Caldor and Grizzly Flat roads east of Somerset in the Eldorado National Forest area with a group of friends kayaking, El Dorado County Sheriff's Lt. Bryan Golmitz said. Golmitz said the group reported the second of four experienced kayakers disappeared as the group manuevered through a section of rapids.

A dive team as well as additional El Dorado County rescue resources spent Sunday afternoon aiding in the search, Golmitz said. Teams found what was believed to be the kayaker's helmet and life preserver, but a full search of the area where friends thought he was lost turned up no sign of the man. The victim's name was not immediately released. The teams called an end to the search before 6:30 p.m., but Golmitz said crews planned to reassess the recovery effort Monday.

Golmitz said higher-than-normal Sierra runoff coupled with extremely cold temperatures under 50 degrees made the river particularly treacherous for even the most experienced water enthusiasts.

 The river section was the Upper Middle Cosumnes

Aralian kayaker's body recovered from Californian river


THE body of missing Australian kayaker Leon Wescombe was recovered from a Californian river this week.

The Mercury reports older brother Damien Wescombe as saying while it was a relief his brother's body had been found, the family had already accepted that he had drowned.

Mr Wescombe's kayak flipped on the Cosumnes River near the town of El Dorado, California on June 14.

The kayak was found in the days following the disappearance, but searchers could find no sign of the 29-year-old adventurer and cystic fibrosis researcher from Tasmania.

The El Dorado Sheriff's Department contacted the Wescombe family today to tell them they had found Leon's body after extensive river and air searches.


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