On June 9, 1997 Henry Jardin, 31, was paddling the Little Truckee River near Reno, NV with a friend. The river was Class II, and flowing at a medium-high 520 cfs. Neither man had previous whitewater experience. Just above Boca Reservoir they encountered a low head dam. His friend ran it cleanly, but Jardin stopped paddling at the lip of the drop and was caught in the hydraulic. He bailed out and was recirculated many times. His friend jumped into the water and, holding onto a nearby tree, attempted to reach out to Jardin with his floating kayak. A nearby fly fisherman threw a rope. Then his friend attempted to form a human chain with the fisherman, but the man was washed away. Eventually the friend was able to grab Jardin, bring him to shore, and start CPR. A bystander summoned help with a cell phone. Jardin was taken by helicopter to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
SOURCE: Charles Albright; California Boating Accident Report
ANALYSIS: (Walbridge) Dam hydraulics are deceptively dangerous, and neither group understood the danger they were facing. In the case of the Truckee, there were signs at the accident scene and at the upstream put-in warning boaters away from the dam. The clear creek victim compounded his mistake by paddling alone.
Early June saw two drownings on the Truckee River on the West slope of the Sierras west of Reno, Nevada on June 9th and 10th. Internet postings report that Henry Jardin, 33, a beginning kayaker, was killed after running a low-head dam on this tiny Class II creek. Bystanders pulled him from the shore, began CPR, and summoned help. Unfortunately it was too late.