Accident Database

Report ID# 484

  • Flush Drowning
  • Does not Apply
  • High Water
  • One Boat Trip

Accident Description

On June 7, 1998 Idus Roberston, a probate judge from Manchester, Georgia, drowned after his john boat swamped in big waves on the Flint River near Sprewell Bluff, GA.  The river was running at 13'10", runnable by kayaks, but 5 feet above the cutoff used by a local canoe livery. The river was choppy, and none of the three men sharing the boat wanted to get wet. They argued about whom would sit in front and eventually they all sat in the back. When they hit a set of 3-4 foot standing waves, the boat back-endered and put everyone into the water.  Two men and a dog made it to shore, but Robertson did not. After ten days he was still missing and is presumed dead. No word about PFD use.

SOURCE: J.B. Miller, posting to

ANALYSIS: (Walbridge) Small boats are very sensitive to weight distribution, and the group’s failure to recognize this was a direct cause of the capsizing. They might have gotten away with what they were doing at low flows, but high water conditions are quite intolerant of error.

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