Accident Database

Report ID# 51

  • PFD Not Worn or Present
  • Does not Apply
  • Other

Accident Description

The traditional Memorial Day celebration at Lander's Campground was was much subdued following the death of Mark Minchon at Skinner's Falls on the Upper Delaware River on May 28, 1988.  Minchon was part of  a group of ten people who rented canoes above Skinner's Falls. This Class III rapid is not difficult, but it causes many problems for the crowds of inexperienced New Yorkers who descend on it every summer. 

Despite strongly-worded instructions at the livery and a warning sign on the bridge pier above the rapid. Mr. Minchon was the only one in his group not to wear a PFD. As they headed into the rapid he confided to his partner that he could not swim.  After the canoe capsized his partner made it to shore, but he did not. He passed within a few feet of a fishing boat at the bottom of the rapid. These sportsmen grabbed for him, but missed. By the time they had raised anchor and started their engine he was gone.

The incident happened at 8:00 AM, so it took a while for aithorities to mobilize. Members of the National Canoe Safety Patrol and the National Park Service were on the scene in minutes. A dive team and a helicopter arrived soon after, and the search ran until dusk that day. The body was found at 10:00 the next day, 700 feet below the end of the rapid.

Source: NPS River Ranger Ted Waddell; The Narrowsburg, NY River Reporter Weekly

I'malways surprised that  a non-swimmer would chose to try whitewater, but I am appalled when they also chose not to wear a PFD.  Had Mr. Minchon worn a PFD he would have emerged from this incident alive and ready to continue his trip.

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