Accident Database

Report ID# 3818

  • PFD Not Worn or Present
  • Does not Apply
  • Cold Water

Accident Description

Canoe capsized in 47* water and both occupants drowned, although both were strong swimmers and barely 50ft from shore.

OHATCHEE, Alabama -- An early morning fishing trip turned tragic when two brothers died after their canoe overturned this morning. Calhoun County Coroner Pat Brown said the incident happened sometime around 1 a.m. near Robins Mill Road in Ohatchee. Xao Le, 44, and Cong Le, 28, his brother, both of Jacksonville, were fishing with nets when their canoe overturned. A cousin was standing on a nearby bank watching and saw the accident. While the two brothers held onto the canoe, he ran for help.

Brown said the cousin ran to nearby houses trying to get help, but had difficulty making himself understood. While the cousin was gone, one of the brothers became entangled in a net. By the time help did arrive, both of the men had gone under. Neither was wearing a life vest.

Rescue crews found Xao's body about 2 a.m. Cong was recovered about 7 a.m. Brown said both died of drowning, though hypothermia was probably a contributing factor. "They both knew how to swim," Brown said. "They drowned less than 50 feet from shore in water that was about 8 or 9 feet deep. But at the temperature the water was that early in the morning, the muscles can constrict very quickly." --

Two brothers drowned Sunday morning in the Coosa River in Ohatchee, Calhoun County Coroner Patrick Brown said. Brown said Xao Le, 44, and Cong Le, 28, both of Jacksonville, drowned near Robins Mill Road after they were fishing with a net about 1 a.m. Sunday. He said about that time, something unknown happened and the canoe overturned and both of the men went overboard, clinging to the canoe.

The elder Le got entangled in the net and drowned while the younger Le died a short distance away from the canoe. Brown said the water was 47 degrees and likely was a contributing factor to their deaths. “It’s a product of the cold water,” Brown said. “(Hypothermia) sets in pretty quick.” The two were with their cousin. Brown said when the cousin saw them in trouble, he went to get help, but when he came back, he saw no sign of the men. The men were not wearing life vests, but were good swimmers. Xao Le’s body was recovered about 2 a.m. and Cong Le’s body was recovered about 7 a.m. The Ohatchee Fire Department and the Etowah County Rescue Squad contributed to the search operation.

Editor's Notes: Besides the obvious issues of no PFD's and very cold water, it seems that comparing the number of drownings that have happened over the years where the victims were non-english speaking immigrants, compared to the percentage of the total population, that water safety education is not getting to non-english speaking people as wall as it could.

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