Accident Database

Report ID# 3604

  • Other
  • Does not Apply
  • High Water

Accident Description

Probable Asthma Attack. Guides reported throat closed, could not rescusitate.

April 30, 2012 Rafter dies Saturday during whitewater trip

By Wendy Holdren, Beckley Register-Herald Reporter

A guest on a commercial raft trip died Saturday afternoon, after falling into the Lower Gauley River. Darrin Rennee, 45, of Chesapeake, Va., was rafting near Lower Mash rapid with Adventures on the Gorge when he was ejected from the boat. He swam briefly in the river and was pulled back into the boat before meeting the Diagonal Ledge Rapid. Shortly after Rennee was back in the boat, he became unconscious.

The raft crew began CPR and he was then transported by Air Evac helicopter to Summersville Memorial Hospital. Upon arrival at the hospital, he was pronounced dead. The National Park Service is heading an investigation into the accident and an autopsy has been requested by the Division of Natural Resources. The medical examiner will determine the cause of death. The rafter was a guest at Adventure West Virginia Resort.

Spokesman Dave Arnold said the raft guide has 18 years of experience on commercial raft trips. “Everyone who supported the rescue and recovery efforts is to be commended for their professionalism and responsive actions,” Arnold said. “Our company and employees are deeply saddened by the accident.”

Whitewater Rafter Dies on Gauley River

Posted: Apr 29, 2012 By Tim Carrico, Anchor / Reporter

FAYETTEVILLE -According to investigators, one person is dead following an accident on the Gauley River on Saturday evening. The victim is a middle-aged male from Virginia. It happened at approximately 2:30 p.m. Saturday on the 'Diagonal Ledges' rapid. The victim was able to swim back to the raft, but moments later he became unconscious. CPR was performed. He was later transported to an area hospital via helicopter, where he was pronounced dead. The victim's body has been sent to the State Medical Examiner's Office for autopsy. The name of the victim is not being released at this time.


Gauley River National Recreation Area (WV)
Man Dies During Commercial Rafting Trip

A 45-year-old Virginia man died last Saturday while on a commercial rafting trip on the lower Gauley River. Rangers and other emergency resources responded to a 911 call regarding an unresponsive passenger, with CPR in progress, on a remote and mostly inaccessible section of the Gauley River downstream of Lower Mash Rapids. An aero-medical helicopter, ambulances, and a Norfolk Southern Railroad high-railer were ordered to assist with the evacuation. As rangers were hiking into the location, they were advised that the helicopter had successfully evacuated the man but that he'd been pronounced dead.

Rangers and state conservation officers conducted the investigation throughout the rest of the day. The man had been on a rafting trip with his brothers and friends. He'd fallen out of his raft and into the river while going through Lower Mash Rapids. Passengers on another boat in the trip had picked him up and gotten him back into the boat. Soon after, the man experienced difficulty breathing and became unresponsive. CPR was begun by rafting company employees. The pilot of the responding helicopter made an improvised landing on a roughly 24-square-foot rock near Diagonal Ledges Rapids and the crew continued EMS until the man was pronounced dead.  The cause of death is pending autopsy results. At the time, the Gauley River was running approximately 5,500 cubic feet per second (cfs). Lower Mash is a Class IV rapid at 2,800 cfs.
[Submitted by Frank Sellers] 

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