Accident Database

Report ID# 435

  • Health Problem
  • Heart Attack / Heart Failure
  • High Water

Accident Description

On July 16, heavy rains from Hurricane Bertha raised water levels in Maine's Kennebec Gorge to just over 10,000 cfs, more than double the usual flow. Many outfitters were double guiding their rafts and offering refunds to anyone with health problems that might put them at risk during a long swim. A man with a history of heart trouble fell out of his raft in the Alleyway, which that day was absolutely continuous with waves up to 15 feet high. He was recovered in Cathedral Eddy and brought to shore, where he collapsed and died.

SOURCE: Discussions with area outfitters and guides

ANALYSIS: (Walbridge) Flush-drowning, the term used to describe accidents in which a paddle drowns while swimming a long distance in rapids in a PFD, is a recurring problem in river rafting accidents. It can effect parties of any skill level. When a raft flips, many people are thrown into the water. They often become separated, making recovery difficult. Some rafters, both commercial and private, travel in one-boat trips, so there is no one around to pick up swimmers. Unusually high water contributed to most of the incidents described above.

Join AW and support river stewardship nationwide!