Family and friends mourn the tragic loss of Georgia Canoe Association member Ed Green of Sylva, NC. He died in Asheville on Sunday, December 27, 1998, after being resuscitated from a drowning incident the proceeding Wednesday. The accident was caused by a failure to scout “Crack in the Rock” rapid on the Raven Fork River in Cherokee, NC. I can only guess at a couple of reasons for Ed’s choice to run the drop without scouting. It was cold, with the temperature in the low 30s, and this was take-out. Only a brief scout would have immediately identified the log strainer slightly submerged and angled down at the base of the drop. He just paddled right in.
My attempts with a throw rope were futile. Even from an upstream angle, I couldn’t pull Ed out and he couldn’t hold on. It was over fast, in 4 to 5 minutes. I continued pulling on the rope even after I knew it was hopeless. My girlfriend, saw what happened and was able to reach Cherokee Fire and Rescue by phone. Five minutes later, fifteen trained professionals arrived. It took six men to safely remove the boat from the crack. Ed was rushed to the hospital in Cherokee where a team of doctors resuscitated him and got a pulse. Sadly, the trauma proved to be too much.
SOURCE: by Chris McLoughlin, in the Georgia Canoe Association Eddyline
The Raven Fork River is a Class IV stream falling out of Smokey Mountain National Park in Western North Carolina. On December 27th two kayakers approached "Crack-in-the-Rock", a blind drop with a known strainer in the chute. Chris McLaughlin, who authored an account on rec.boats.paddle, notes that the log was easily avoided, but that the route was not clear from the top. Ed Green, his companion, elected to run first, without scouting. He became badly pinned. McLaughlin attempted a rescue, but was unable to help his friend alone. Green disappeared under water after a brief struggle.
His girlfriend, who was following them along the road, saw what was happening and went for help. Five minutes later Cherokee Fire and Rescue arrived. It took six trained men to free Green's boat. They were able to get a pulse, but he had been under too long and died the next day. McLaughlin speculates that Green decided not to scout because the air temperature was in the 30's and they were near the takeout. We have all been tempted to take similar shortcuts; let's think of this the next time we're confronted with a similar decision.
ANALYSIS: (McLoughlin) Our main mistake was in not scouting the drop. The Cherokee EMT’s later said that throughout low water seasons, debris seems to collect on the Raven Fork, only to be picked up and washed downstream when the water rises. Also, we were the only two on the river, and a larger group would have provided a greater margin of safety. Reevaluate your skills, and remember just how quickly mistakes can lead to tragedy.