Accident Database

Report ID# 3720

  • Swim into Strainer
  • Near Drowning
  • Other

Accident Description

This was her 1st whitewater run since injuring her arm on a Dec. run we did on the Upper Amicolola,and the level is one she has been on before, @ 980 cfs. We were into the top of Buck island shoals,I ran it 1st and she was behind me.

I eddyed out to take pictures,and told her to find an eddy while I take pics. While she is experienced,she is a little apprehensive.. I take the pics,including the ''eddy'' she is in. I tell her ok lets go.. I then heard a scream for help. I turn back,and see her kayak is upside down and drifting but she's not in it. I let the boat go,i pullinto an eddy and run along along the shoreline looking for her and yelling. I cant see her or hear her. I jump into the water and make my way downstream,and I see her helmet. When she was trying to pull out of her eddy, she got swept broadside into low hanging mtn Laurel/rhododendrun. She is is in swift current, being sucked under and deeper ,and she is very much entangled. She is in a strainer and this is certain death.

I was the only one there ,and I had to enter into into the same bush to pull her out. The current was strong,for this is somewhat of an ill defined eddy line,and fast,and there were no foot holds. All I can do is help her by grabbing her life jacket with 1 hand and trying to free her with the other. It took a while, she was getting very tired,and I was getting tired as well, but I had to get her out and I did.

The thing to come from this is something emphasized repeatedly,this could have been certain death if i paddled a little faster, because then I would have lost sight and I would never know where she was. Can't hear her scream because of the noise from the rapids,and that she was in the water ,trying to keep her head afloat.

Second thing, she has experience. but this was a poor excuse for an eddy. Most of us would not have stopped in this one-for the very real proximity and danger of being swept broadside into the very strainers that got her. Betty is 61 years old, and this was her 1st lifethreatening event on river. She paddled the next section with us days later to get some confidence back. I have pictures of that particular bush.

I myself am a victim of something very similar to this-dated 2004 chestatee ,coppermine falls at high water-pinned by a submerged tree in the hydraulic

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