Date
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Accident Description


On May 6 Michael Day, an experienced kayaker and the popular coach of a local football team, drowned on the Savage River near its confluence with the Potomac above Luke, Maryland. This Class III-IV stream was the site of the 1989 World Championships. At the 1200 cfs level they had on that day it is very fast, with few eddies, and often contains dangerous strainers. Chuck Stump, one of the survivors, reported that Day was paddling with two other paddlers when he broached on a strainer and bailed out. Stump chased the kayak through continuous class III+ rapids to the confluence with the Potomac while another man brought Day to shore.

Since their backs were up against a steep slope topped by a fence festooned with "no trespassing" signs, Day elected to swim downstream about 100 yards to a large eddy. As his companion got back into his boat, Day entered the current and disappeared. When he did not appear in the eddy or at the confluence, his companions began a search. After several hours of fruitless authorities were notified, and as the water went down a flash of color was detected around a submerged tree. Their worst fears were realized when the body was recovered the following day. The decision by Day to enter the water, while unusual, was not unreasonable. Rapids can normally be swum safely, but submerged strainers are a significant hidden hazard and cannot always be spotted. Moreover, the conventional feet-first swimming position takes you underneath strainers. Day had no way of anticipating the problem, and it happened so quickly that his predicament went unseen and rescue was probably impossible.

 

On June 4, 1996 Kelly Day, an experienced kayaker and the popular coach of the Keyser, WV football team, drowned on the Savage River near Luke, MD. This continuous Class III-IV stream was the site of the 1989 World Championships. The 1400 cfs level they had on that day is on the high side. It’s quite fast, with few eddies. The river often contains dangerous strainers.  

Chuck Stump, one of Day’s two companions, reported that Day broached on a strainer and bailed out.  Stump chased the kayak through continuous Class III+ rapids to the confluence with the Potomac while the other man brought Day to shore. Since their backs were up against a steep slope topped by a fence festooned with "no trespassing" signs, Day elected to swim downstream about 100 yards to a large eddy. As his companion got back into his boat, Day entered the current and disappeared. When he did not appear in the eddy or at the confluence, his companions began a search. After several hours of fruitless effort, authorities were notified. As the water went down a flash of color was detected around a submerged tree. Their worst fears were realized when the body was recovered the following day. Partly as a result of this, the water release scheduled for later in the month was cancelled.  

SOURCE: Chuck Stump; Cumberland Times News; Paul Schelp, posting to rec.boats.paddle  

ANALYSIS: (Walbridge) The decision by Day to enter the water, while unusual, was not unreasonable. Rapids can normally be swum safely, but submerged strainers are a significant hidden hazard and cannot always be spotted. Moreover, the conventional feet-first swimming position takes you underneath strainers. Day had no way of anticipating the problem, and it happened so quickly that his predicament went unseen and rescue was probably impossible.