Accident Database

Report ID# 422

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  • Caught in Low Head Dam Hydraulic
  • PFD Not Worn or Present
  • Does not Apply
  • Inexperience

Accident Description

DESCRIPTION: On June 15, 1996 six rental rafts encountered a low-head dam on the Vermilion River in Illinois. The group was planning to run the fish ladder on river right. One raft, containing two men, did not get over there in time. They went over the five-foot drop sideways and were caught in the hydraulic. One man, who was wearing a PFD, washed out. He was cut and beaten by rebar and debris below the dam. The other man, James Schiro, was not wearing his PFD. He disappeared. His brother obtained permission to drop dynamite into the hydraulic to release the body, but this was not successful. The body was found three days later, many miles downstream.

SOURCE: The Chicago Whitewater Association’s newsletter The Gradient

ANALYSIS: (Walbridge) The hydraulics around dams are deceptively dangerous. Summer high water always brings out inexperienced floaters who do not recognize the danger that dams pose.

 

On June 15 a guided raft trip encountered a low-head dam on the Vermillion River in Illinois. The Chicago Whitewater Association newsletter "The Gradient" reports that the group was told to run the fish laddrer on river right. One raft, containing two men, did not get over there in time. They went over the five-foot drop sideways and were caught in the hydraulic. One man, who was wearing a PFD, washed out. He was cut and beaten by rebar and debris below the dam. The other man, James Schiro, was not using a PFD. He dissapeared. His brother obtained permission to drop dynamite into the hydraulic to release the body, but this was not successful. The body was found three days later, over two miles downstream.

 

 

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