Accident Database

Report ID# 405

  • Caught in a Natural Hydraulic
  • PFD Not Worn or Present
  • Does not Apply
  • High Water

Accident Description


DESCRIPTION: On Saturday August 19, 1995 a three-canoe party reached Poly Falls, a five-foot drop on Robinson Creek near Black River Falls, Wisconsin. Two canoes made it to shore, but one tipped over above the falls. The 20-year-old woman paddling the boat became caught in a large hole at the base of the drop. Her father, 49, who was not wearing a life vest, dove in after her and also became trapped. She eventually came out of the hole; he did not. Searchers for the two bodies were hampered by high flows caused by recent rains.

SOURCE: Paul Wagner posting to Rec.Boats.Paddle

ANALYSIS: A combination of high water and inexperience caused the accident. The second victim violated a cardinal rule of rescue: never compound the problem by becoming a victim yourself. All of us must consider the risks before we act.

Update:  It sounds like the second death was not a canoe party member, but a body recovery person a couple days later.

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