Accident Database

Report ID# 516

  • Impact/Trauma
  • Head Injury / Concussion
  • Other

Accident Description

The North Fork of the Payette in southern Idaho is one of the premier Class V runs in the country. With a railroad on one side and a highway on the other, the riverbed contains more shallow, sharp rocks than you might expect. On July 12, 1998 it was running at 1700 cfs, a moderate, yet quite challenging level. Lucas Turner, 22, had run the North Payette several times before. He was running the river with six other paddlers when he flipped in a big hole in Taffy Puller and failed to roll. He was last seen alive while swimming just above the Golf Course. Rescuers reported evidence of a massive head injury to the right temple area. Paddlers believe that he hit his head during the roll or the subsequent swim.

SOURCE: Vince Thompson; Roger Lynn; Gill Turner, Lucas Turner’s father

ANALYSIS:  This river is extremely rocky and powerful The rapids are vert hallenging, and even good boaters get flipped. Those who plan to run it need the very best helmet they can find.


A 22 year old male kayaker from Salt Lake City drowned at Jacobs Ladder/Golf Course on sunday July 12 around 4 pm. The name has apparently not been released yet. He was boating w/ 5 or 6 other kayakers. The initial reports I heard suggest that he may have struck his head after being rolled. Dont know whether that was at Jakes or in the Golf Course. The body was pulled out somewhere near the bottom of Golf Course and cpr was initiated. Both the tv news and a short blip in the newspaper reported a blow to the right temple and forehead. Thats all I know about this very unfortunate accident

Roger Lynn Safety Chair Colorado White Water Association Update: On 15 Jul 1998 17:13:49 GMT, in (Scott Smay) wrote: In article <6oifu3$m3f$> writes: I've heard that there was a kayaker who died over the weekend on the NF of the Payette. Does anybody know the facts? I expected to see some facts on this by now, so I will post what I "know". I was on the river that day but did not witness the accident. Victim: 22 year old Utah man named Luke. Date: Sunday, July 12, around 4 pm Victim flipped in a hole just below Taffy Puller and was last seen alive swimming into the Ocean Wave (first drop in the Golf Course). He was one of a party of six, four of whom were attempting the river for the first time. The party did not locate the victim until they were driving back up to the accident site, when they saw his body in rocks on river right. CPR failed to revive him. The NF was running about 1700 cfs according to the Otter gauge. less-than-cheers, scott /Everything I know is wrong./ /Repliers must remove "spam" from email address/ Roger Lynn Discussion with father: 3'rd trip down.On July 12th the North Fork of the Payette, a roadside Class V run in southern Idaho, was running at 1700 cfs, a moderate flow. Its rapids are steep, violent, and surprisingly shallow. Flips carry with them a serious risk of head injuries. An Idaho Rivers web site reported that in the afternoon a group of six kayakers, four of whom had never run the river before, put in above Jacob's Ladder. Lucas Turner, 26, broached on a rock in "Rock Drop", at around 4:00PM spun around, and flipped. He flushed through Taffy Puller upside down and was last seen alive swimming at the top of the Golf Course. The party could not locate him until they were driving back up to the site, when they saw his body among some rocks on the river right shore. CPR failed to revive him.

Further investigation revealed that a hard blow to the right temple probably caused his death. There is no way that a stunned or unconscious paddler could survive a swim in the North Fork, and this injury might have proven fatal on its own. Turner's helmet was a popular lightweight plastic model, and this accident should reminds us of the need for heavy, full coverage helmets when running rapids of this magnitude.




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