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Rafter drowns on Ocoee River

North Carolina Man Dies In Rafting Incident On The Ocoee River

Sunday, September 14, 2014 A 50-year-old North Carolina man died Saturday morning when the raft he was aboard overturned in the Ocoee River. The victim was Gary Brown of Clayton. Mr. Brown and five other occupants along with a guide were ejected after the raft they were navigating overturned in a rapid. The victim was unresponsive when he was recovered from the water further downriver. Investigators report that he was wearing a lifejacket and that there were no external injuries.

The accident is being ruled as an accidental drowning. TWRA officials said, "While capsizing and overturning is common while whitewater rafting on the Ocoee, fatalities are not. This is only the fourth fatal accident on the Ocoee River in the past four years. There was a similar drowning on the river in 2011, none in 2012, and two in two days in 2013." The accident remains under a joint investigation between the TWRA and Tennessee State Parks.

He was on a raft operated by Endless River Adventures that was going through the "Table Saw" rapid. Rafting Warnings After Weekend Death On Ocoee River During warm months along the Ocoee River, thrill-seekers are braving Class III and IV rapids. But Saturday morning, an action-packed trip down the river ended in tragedy.

State officials tell us a raft operated by Endless River Adventures was maneuvering through a rapid called "Table Saw" when the raft overturned. All of the rafters were accounted for, except for 50-year-old Gary Brown of Clayton, North Carolina. Even though he was wearing a life jacket, his body was found floating downriver.

"Unfortunately, there are inherent risks in the sport as there are in many sports. Ultimately, I think you're more likely to have a fatality on the way to the river in your car than you are on the river," says Eric Ferris. Ferris is a regular visitor of the Ocoee, and other southeastern rivers. He's an experienced kayaker, but even he feels uneasy about whitewater rafting. "I flip over, I can roll my boat back up and not have to swim the river. In a raft, if you fall out, you're basically on your own."

NewsChannel 9 spoke on the phone with the president of the Ocoee River Outfitters Association, which oversees all of the rafting companies in the area. Group leaders say Endless River Adventures is a reputable company known for its detailed safety procedures. All of the outfitters are required to equip their rafters with a helmet, and life jacket. Until now, it's been a fatality-free season. But accidents are still possible. "Bad things can happen. This isn't the first fatality on the river and it won't be the last, but overall I think it's a pretty safe river," says Ferris. The company responsible,

Endless River Adventures, is located in Bryson City, North Carolina. The outfitter loads vans full of rafters and they make the two-hour drive to the Ocoee each weekend. Calls to that outfitter were not returned. The accident remains under a joint investigation between the TWRA and Tennessee State Parks.

Boatertalk Posts: 

I was told a surge above table saw... raft flipped in tablesaw... victim flushed through tablesaw, diamond splitter, then western flyer... I was told they got him over to river left and performed CPR until advanced EMS arrived.... I was told that the victim's body was taken off the river on river right on that foot trail by runner's rock... all second hand info.>>

Talked to a couple of Quest guides. They had a trip go through right as they were getting the victim off of the river... I was told that the river surged up above 3,000 for a few min... I am assuming that TVA opened the trash gates. That's what happened that weekend in Aug. 2013 when there were deaths on back to back days... around Aug 26 2013>>

the surge effects at the Thunder Rock turbine chute directly below Edge-of-the-World rapid, if the Upper Ocoee is running and TVA has to divert water from the #3 penstock, very large surges can occur 
without warning. That is apparently what happened in this case.  Rafts not already on the river 
were held up, but rafts already running the Middle O were at the mercy of the release.

North Carolina man dies in river accident in Tenn.>>

Posted: Sep 14, 2014>>

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Authorities say a 50-year-old North Carolina man has died in a rafting accident on the Ocoee River in Tennessee. According to the Knoxville News Sentinel ( ), the Clayton, North Carolina man and six other people were ejected from a raft when it overturned in a rapid on the river in Polk County. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency says the man was unresponsive when he was recovered from the water farther down the river. His name was not immediately released. Investigators say the victim was wearing a life jacket. Officials say the death is the fourth fatal accident on the Ocoee River in the past four years. The accident is under investigation.>>

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