Accident Database

Report ID# 515

  • Health Problem
  • Other
  • Other

Accident Description

Southeast Tennessee ’s Ocoee River is the most popular Class III+ run in the Southeast. A 53-year-old man drowned on August 8, 1998 after his canoe flipped at Tablesaw Rapid. A friend saw him leave his boat and threw him a rope, but he made no move to get it. Instead, he swam weakly to shore and collapsed in the rocky shallows. A river guide was first on the scene. When his companion, a medical doctor, reached him, he had no pulse. Another doctor joined him as he began CPR. He was taken to a local hospital, then transferred to a medical center where he died the next day. The cause of death was a massive cerebral aneurysm, unrelated to his activity on the river. 

SOURCE:; phone conversation with Dr. Powell


The other incident happened about 11 a.m. Sunday when the canoe Robert S. Davis, 53, of Waynesboro, MS, was paddling turned over near Tablesaw rapid on the Ocoee River. A companion on the trip saw Davis swim free from under the boat and tried to throw him a safety line, but Daivs couldn't grasp the line. He made his way to some rocks on the side of the river and then became motionless, witnesses say.

When his partner, who is a medical doctor, reached him, he had no pulse. Another doctor who was the river joined in the rescue effort and the were able to revive Davis, who was taken to Copper Basin Medical Center. Once Stabilized, Davis was transferred to Erlanger Medical Center where he died Monday. --

East Tennessee's Ocoee River was the site of fatality on August 8th. A Chattanooga Times article reported that an open canoeist flipped at Tablesaw Rapid. The paddler, who friends say was a very experienced riverman, bailed out and swam. A rope was thrown, but he could not grab hold. He barely made it to shore before he collapsed. His partner, a doctor, began treatment immediately. The victim was transported to a hospital in Chattanooga where he died the next day. An autopsy revealed that a brain aneurysm, not related to the river, was the cause of death. His name is being withheld at his family's request.

Join AW and support river stewardship nationwide!