Accident Database

Report ID# 34

  • Impact/Trauma
  • Pinned in Boat Against Strainer
  • Head Injury / Concussion
  • Cold Water
  • Solo Paddling

Accident Description

Dr. Donna Berglund was one of the most skilled femake kayakers of her era. She was a very experienced river runner, a member of the U.S. Wildwater Team, and very fit. The Swan River where she died is very continuous, with few eddies.

Donna was in the area training for a race. After making an afternoon practice run she wanted to take another. Finding no takers, she characteristically elected to go alone. We think she spun out on a midstream boulder and pinned heads down against a submerged log. Her helmet was torn off and there was a serious head injury.

Donna was found by the first racers on the river the next day. The pin was not severe, and her kayak was easily released.

No single incident demostrates the dangers of solo paddling as well as this one.  

Years later one of the people who found her said she had hit her head pretty badly. Probably flipped and floated upside down until she hung up.

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