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Accident Description


Gregory Luebert, professor of political science and expert canoeist, drowned near the end of the Golden Canyon of the South Fork of the Clearwater in Idaho. At a rapid near "mile nine" Mr. Luebert flipped after surfing a hole. His roll failed, and he took a half-mile swim down an intense stretch of rapids. At one point he was close to shore but lacked the strength to save himself.  At the bottom of the rapid there was a large rock that he was unable to avoid.  He washed against it and was pinned under water for thirty seconds, and the water pulled his life jacket off. His friends grabbed him whrn he washed out, pulled him ashore, and applied CPR. He was declared dead at the scene by EMT's 45 minutes later.

SOURCE: Michael Bush, in the Sierra Club River Touring Section Newsletter

Flush drownings are a serious risk in continuous whitewater.  The risk can be mitigated by mutual support; the rest depends on skill and good judgement.