Accident Database

Report ID# 469

  • Swim into Rock or Sieve
  • Does not Apply
  • Other

Accident Description

The Five Falls of the Chatooga, are located along the Georgia/South Carolina border. It maintains a formidable reputation despite huge advances in whitewater boating over the past twenty years. On January 11, 1998 the river was running at 2.6 feet, a rather high, pushy level. The victim, Tim McLure, was an experienced kayaker who had made many runs on Section IV. He was boating with a strong group of friends who also knew the river well.

McLure became caught in a very steep entry hole in the lower part of Jawbone Rapid and exited his boat after three roll attempts. He washed into the Puppy Chute, a high water sneak route through Sock-em-dog. Here he was pushed under the left side of Allison's Rock, a bad undercut that claimed the life of a rafter a few years ago. The runout of this undercut is very narrow and Tim apparently broached on his paddle there and became pinned. One person in his group jumped on the rock and was able to grab his hand. His group was equipped and trained for rescue and reportedly broke two z-drags in their efforts to extricate him.

By Wednesday, January 14th the level had dropped to 2.2 feet. A team of paddlers and rescue squad members recovered Tim’s body and rafted him across Lake Togaloo to the takeout.

SOURCE Tom Wiedeman, Scott Bristow, Greg Hunt and others posting to

ANALYSIS: (Walbridge) The Five Falls are a bad place to swim at any level, and even worse at high water. Anyone who fails to roll above Sock ‘em Dog at any level is in grave danger of being swept into an undercut rock. It is unclear whether a pre-positioned throw line might have helped.


Death on the Chatooga River, 1-11-98 Date: 13 Jan 1998 23:56:23 GMT

Over the past three days we have maintained a close network of information coming from the friends who were there and are most afected by the accident. The family is informed and has open arms for Tim's friends. I was not on the scene. Tim McLure was a very good friend. I enjoyed paddling with him. He will be missed. Tim was very familliar with the river and the rapid. The crew of boaters was strong and experienced. He swam out of his boat after several attempts to roll when he flipped at the end of Jawbone. He swam into Sock'em Dog near the PuppyChute. Rescue was swift and heroic. Tim remained calm. Another paddler from Tim's party got onto the rock in the center of the rapid and was able to hold Tim's hand until he went unconcious. Two Z-drags were broken in the process. All that could be done was.

A team will be going into the site to work with the athorities to rescue the body. Please, help thier efforts by choosing to paddle another section and not disturbing thier work. Many people have been helpful in assisting in many ways. Thank you. For now we only want to bring our brother home. More details will become available soon. Please, keep the McLure family in your prayers. The Chattooga was running 2.6 at 3 pm on Sunday. The rescuers were finally able to free Tim's body from under the rocks early yesterday (1-14) afternoon. Spokespersons for the efforts reported that the water level receeded enough during the night to allow rescuers to safely remove the body. Upmost respect goes out to the 30+ people involved in the rescue.

Second report: On Wednesday, January 14th, the body of Tim McLure was extricated from Sock'em Dog rapid on the Chatooga. The coordinated effort of local rescue groups, outfitters, and individuals gathered on Wednesday morning to remove the body. The river level was 2.2' (lower than the 2.6-2.7' of Sunday) which made the effort much safer and more feasable. The plan was executed quickly and professionally. Tim's body was recovered shortly after noon. The body was carried across Lake Tugaloo by raft escorted by friends and paddling partners. The sense of relief and closure was shared by all present. No one wanted to see a brother left behind. We were happy to help see Tim home again. Tim died on his favorite river at his fovorite rapid. The accident was the result of a series of events that could not have been predicted or prevented. I hope to have a detailed account of the accident compiled soon. Tim's body was broached on his own paddle which was still in his hand Wednesday. He had tried swimming left after several attempts to roll. He swam into the underwater sieve immediatelly right of the Puppy Chute sneak of Sock'em Dog. The paddle broached from a log to the rock several feet over the sieve itself. The paddle prevented the body from slipping futher into the sieve under the rock in the middle of the river, aka Allison's Rock.

At this point the primary factor involved with the accident seems to be the level of the river and the force of the water involved. This is a known hazard which several have narrowly missed at other times. Please be aware of this hazard. Many of the hazards of a swim in the Five Falls are well known, add this to your list.The Five Falls of the Chatooga, located along the Georgia/South Carolina border, has maintained a formidable reputation despite the advances in whitewater boating over the past twenty years.

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