Accident Database

Report ID# 4004

  • Caught in a Natural Hydraulic
  • Flush Drowning
  • Does not Apply
  • Cold Water

Accident Description


Friday the 18th of December my friend and I came upon a fatal accident at the bottom of quarter mile rapid. My heart goes out to those involved. I do not know the details of the incident but am assuming Murphys ledge was the culprit.

I am mainly posting this as a warning that at higher water (it was 2000 cfs) this hole is bad.. and also I always see people running the right line around Murphys ledge... while this is fine at around 1000 cfs I believe ferrying across to the left side of river (after one has passed all the boulders and sivey looking stuff ) is the safer route to running Murphys ledge. Your margin of error is much larger on the left side than the right at higher flows.... if you can't make the ferry (which is not very hard) than please walk this rapid at higher flows.

The right side line is quite possible but as the water gets higher the possibility of getting accidently sling shot ed into the hole is greater than the left side. Also if one was stuck in the hole on the right side it would be harder at any flow for a person to get out of there
boat and throw a rope on the right side simply because there is more of a straight up and down cliff or wall on the right... sorry for the negative news I just want my friends and strangers alike to paddle safe...

DSS director dies in kayaking accident

By Janet R. Chapin

December 20, 2015

Floyd Eric Bush, the director of the Henderson County Department of Social Services, drowned in a father-and-son kayaking accident on the Nolichucky River in Mitchell County on Friday, leaving behind his wife of 32 years and his three children and stunned coworkers at the social services agency. Bush, 59, was on a kayaking trip with his son, Matthew, on Friday on the Nolichucky River when the father's kayak overturned in the rapids. Bush was "under water for several minutes before he was washed out by the current,"

Mitchell County Sheriff's Deputy Kolby Silver said in a report. "Matthew was able to go through the rapid and pull (his father) to the bank." Bush was not breathing at the time. After administering CPR for several minutes, Matthew climbed up to railroad tracks and ran six miles to a campground in Erwin, Tenn., to get help. The Unicoi County sheriff's office and Erwin police responded from the Tennessee side and the Bradshaw and Bakerfields fire departments from the Mitchell County side responded. The rescuers reached Bush about 5:30 p.m. He was transported to Blue Ridge Hospital in Spruce Pine, where a physician on duty pronounced him dead.

Matthew "has spent seven years in the Air Force and is in excellent physical condition," Deputy Cecil Hobson wrote in a summary of his interview with the son. The father-and-son paddlers were prepared for the trip with proper cold-weather gear, Hobson said. They had watched YouTube videos "and felt confident of this trip," the deputy said.

Hobson also interviewed a campground employee who shuttled Bush and his son to the Poplar Gorge boat landing. "From his experience with customers in the past the two men seemed ready for the trip," Hobson said. "He also stated that several people raft the river during the winter months, providing they have the proper equipment."

Bush, 59, served others through his work in social services for 31 years. Before he became director of the Henderson County Department of Social Services, he held the same job in Duplin County in Eastern North Carolina and also served as director of the Marion County Children Services in Marion, Ohio. Committed to volunteering to help those less fortunate, Eric served on the boards of Western Carolina Community Action, Boys and Girls Club Henderson County, Duplin County Partnership for Children, and Boys and Girls Club of Marion County. In addition, Eric served as the President of Habitat for Humanity of Duplin County, Treasurer of El Centro Latino de Duplin, and other state committees devoted to helping others. Eric enjoyed giving of his time as District Commissioner, Harding Area District, Boy Scouts of America, and Assistant Scoutmaster, Troop 26, Marion, Ohio.

Visitation will be held from 4 to 6 p.m. on Monday at Thos. Shepherd & Son Funeral Directors. A funeral service will be held at 2 p.m. Tuesday at the Upward Road campus of Biltmore Baptist Church, at 103 Education Drive in Flat Rock.

Bush is survived by his wife of 32 years, Roxanne Bush; his children, Adam Floyd (Laura) Bush, Heather Roxanne Bush, and Matthew Eric Bush; his mother, Linnie Jean (nee Blair) Bush, and his father, the late Floyd Ray Bush; and his siblings Karen (Robert) Eckardt, Bret (Cindy) Bush, Lynnette (Dean) Clouse, and Michael (Rosa) Bush. He was the uncle of Emily (David) Yann, Erica (Jonathan) Pinter, Ethan Eckardt, Bobbie Jean (Ryan) Baker, Sarah (Justin) Riedel, Noah and Micaiah Clouse, and Alan and Reagan Bush.

Bush's love and compassion for others was fueled by his love of Christ and evident through devotion to his family and acts of service to others. He died doing one of the things he loved best, spending time outdoors, kayaking especially, on North Carolina's mountain rivers. He enjoyed sharing his love of outdoors and adventure with his children and siblings through hiking, kayaking, fishing trips to Canada, and more. When he took the job as the DSS director here in 2013, he told the Hendersonville Lightning in an interview that he and his family had enjoyed travel to the Blue Ridge mountains for many years and as an avid kayaker looked forward to living close to the waterways where he and his family enjoyed paddling.

Bush was a true jack-of-all-trades, able to fix almost anything, his family said. He loved others by working alongside them and giving his time to teach others about his hobbies and passions. Contributions to honor his memory may be made in his name to the Boys and Girls Club of Henderson County and Compassion International.

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