Accident Database

Report ID# 374

  • Caught in Low Head Dam Hydraulic
  • PFD Not Worn or Present
  • Does not Apply
  • Inexperience

Accident Description

ANALYSIS: Although the victim had been paddling class I-II Indiana rivers for 4 years, this experience had not prepared him for the unexpected power of this man-made hydraulic. Paddling without a PFD was a second critical error which, if avoided, could have saved his life. A throw line in the hands of his friends, combined with minimal rescue training, would also have improved the odds.


Whitewater River near Metamora, IN : May 27, 1997

DESCRIPTION: When two brothers, Pat and Matthew Fisse, arrived at Laurel Feeder Dam on May 27th they exercised good judgment by carrying their open touring kayaks around it. They launched at the base of the dam with their PFD's were still tied to their grab loops. Fisse crossed the boil line of the innocent-looking hydraulic at the base of the dam. He was turned sideways, flipped, and forced to swim. Although he was a strong swimmer in good physical condition there was no escape. Repeated attempts by his brother to assist were not successful, and he disappeared beneath the water. Fisse was not seen alive again.

SOURCE: Ron Huffmeier, Outdoor Adventure Club, Dayton, Ohio

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