Accident Database

Report ID# 4088

  • Caught in Low Head Dam Hydraulic
  • Near Drowning
  • Other

Accident Description

Kayaker Rescued After Going Underwater In Jones Falls River


BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A group of kayakers went out to enjoy the fall day and paddle through through the Jones Falls, but choppy waters took over as one man went over the falls.

Everyone else made it out, but one man was found unconscious after being underwater for several minutes. He was part of a group kayaking in the Jones Falls River, at around 3 p.m. Sunday afternoon.

At a damn off Falls Road near 29th street, the waters turned rough and fun turned into danger.

“As soon as it was clear he was having trouble, they threw ropes to him but he disappeared so he couldn’t grab them,” one witness tells WJZ.

“One of them shot over the falls here at this little dam down here. One of them made it easily. The next guy tried it and he got caught in the wash, it pushed him under and he got separated from his boat. And then he disappeared,” he said.

Police say the man spent several minutes in the water. When emergency crews pulled him out, he was unconscious and was taken to University of Maryland Shock Trauma.

Jodie Misiak drives along the Jones Falls every day and says she rarely sees people in or near the water. “It’s just scary and sad. I’m so sorry to hear that. It’s such a beautiful day,” she said.

The man who has not been identified was taken to shock trauma and is in serious condition.

WJZ did speak to some of the kayakers who were in the water when the incident happened. However, they declined to comment.

Follow @CBSBaltimore on Twitter and like WJZ-TV |


ones Falls is an inner city whitewater run through Baltimore with
poor water quality but some of the most unique creek scenery around.
Highlights include several unique drops. Despite the name "Round
Falls", it is actually a horseshoe-shaped dam with the opening of the
horseshoe pointed downstream. It's been run frequently, and the hole
causes occasional problems.

On October 16th Seth Burkholder encountered trouble at Round Falls.
The first paddler in his group went over the center of the falls,
without incident. Mr. Burkholder followed soon afterward, landed a
little sideways, flipped, and was drawn into the curtain and swam.
While he was trying to swim away from the hydraulic he was drawn to
the left and got caught in a particularly strong part of the hydraulic
where he was drawn underwater.

Although there was no downstream safety set, his group reacted quickly
and ropes were thrown. One rope wrapped around Mr. Burkholder's leg
and he was pulled from the water unconscious and not breathing. CPR
began immediately; emergency responders arrived on the scene quickly
and took over caring for him.

Mr. Burkholder was unconscious, but breathing on his own when he
arrived at University of Maryland Shock Trauma. He was in critical but
stable condition, kept in a medically induced coma, but has since
recovered quickly. Several days later he was speaking and walking, and
is scheduled to begin physical therapy.



He ran the drop left of center, came out of his boat and was recirculated. We threw a rope multiple times, but he either wasn't able to grab it or was already unconscious. At this point I ran to get my rope so I didn't see what happened. I've heard the rope snagged him and then one of our friends jumped in to pull him to shore. We got him to the shore, started CPR and bystander called 911. He had a pulse and was breathing when he went to the hospital, but was still unconscious. It's already on the news:

Join AW and support river stewardship nationwide!