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Difficulty
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Experienced/Inexperienced
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Accident Description


Dave Aszman, 18, was kayaking on a swift portion of the Bull Run River near Portand, OR, just upstream from Dodge Park at about

3:00 p.m.

on March 1, 1999. With him was his friend, Erik Eekhoff, 27. According to his brother, Aszman was playing a hole just upstream of a big log. He capsized, and his  kayak hit the log broadside, twisted and went under.

 Eekhoff climbed onto the log and attempted to get Aszman off. When he was not successful, he paddled downstream to Dodge Park. He ran through the park  - where he asked park visitors to call 911 - until he reached the Portland Water Bureau's Office. 

"He said he needed a chainsaw-- quick," a Portland city worker said. "His friend was trapped under a tree."

Several city workers grabbed a chainsaw and drove Eekhoff back to the park, then ran along a shoreline trail to where Aszman was trapped. Eekhoff paddled his kayak across the swollen river to the tree, rigged a harness to support himself and cut the tree free. The kayak popped to the surface, but it stayed upside down and they couldn't see if there was anyone inside.

The kayak swept past a score of water rescuers from the Clackamas County Interagency Water Rescue Team who had rushed to the river to help. They were not convinced that Aszman was still in his kayak, so they began a search of the entire river in inflatable boats. Rescuers quickly spotted a life vest, zipped and buckled, on a small island across from the park. It was later determined to belong to Aszman. After two hours, hopes of making a rescue dimmed. By dusk, the search was called off. It was set to resume the next day.

SOURCE: Article by Stuart Tomlinson , Portland Oregonian;  Jacob Selander posting to rec.boats.paddle

ANALYSIS:

(Walbridge) This is the second strainer death to hit the Northwest in less than a month. Since the danger of these hazards is well known, boaters should always check downstream before playing in waves or holes.

 

Preliminary Report

Yesterday a good friend of mine, David Aszman, was involved in a kayaking accident on the Bull Run river outside of Sandy, OR. As far as I know right now, he is missing and presumed drowned. David was 18, and from what we had talked about, planning on attending college in Eugene in the fall. I received a call from his family last night, and right now we are all praying that he is still alive. What I heard from David's brother is that he was playing in a hole, and didn't see a log that was about 100 ft downstream. He capsized, and was flushed into the log. His boating partner at the time, Eric Eekhoff (it was the two of them), managed to get up on the log and attempt to get David off. Not able to remove David, Eric came back later with a chainsaw and was able to remove the log. They found his boat, empty, and his PFD, which was still zipped up, showing no signs of it having been taken off.

I haven't heard back from his family yet, but I'm asking everyone in the boating community to pray for him and his family in hopes that David is still alive. I hate bringing people news like this, it's the kind of stuff that just shouldn't happen. But this is a sport where there is always that element of danger, and sometimes there's nothing we can do about it. I don't want to bring this into everyone's lives, but it must be said. Please pray for the Aszman family. There is a story in today's Oregonian about the accident. I'll add in some other details that weren't covered in the article.

Dave and I started kayaking about the same time in June of 1997. I met him over last summer, and paddled with him many, many times. David and I shared the same love for the sport, both in the play aspect, and the downriver aspect. Dave was the kind of paddler who you could tell had just tons of potential waiting to be unleashed, and I was looking forward to competing against him in a few rodeos this spring. Just two weeks ago we were playing at Bob's hole, sitting in the eddy and joking around, having a great time. But now as I paddle, I'm dedicating it all to Dave. Dave-Wherever you are, just know that you'll always live on inside us.

Peace, bro.

Body of missing kayaker recovered David Aszman's family endured 42 days of not knowing for sure if he were dead Tuesday April 13, 1999

By Wendy Y. Lawton of The Oregonian staff

GRESHAM -- On Sunday evening, a little after 5:30 p.m., a man angling for salmon and steelhead trout on the Sandy River decided to call it a day. Hauling in the anchor of his drift boat, tethered near the cool shadow of the Troutdale Bridge, he saw the body. Another fisherman towed the body to a nearby boat launch. Police arrived, and a deputy from the Multnomah County medical examiner's office whisked it away.

On Monday afternoon, the medical examiner's office linked that body to a life: It belonged to David Francis Aszman, a dreamy and driven 18-year-old Gresham High School senior who loved rock 'n' roll, sweet junk food and his bright yellow, beat-up 1977 Toyota truck. He put 10,000 miles on it in a single summer to pursue his true passion: kayaking. And that was what David was doing on March 1. He was shooting down the swollen Bull Run River with a buddy, taking in the brown banks and the green trees and the white water. But less than a half-mile from their pullout point near Dodge Park in Sandy, David's kayak caught on a fallen tree and flipped over. His family thinks that the craft folded when it hit the log, trapping his legs. Despite a quick response from his friend -- who paddled downstream to the park, called police, grabbed a chain saw and cut away the tree -- David was never freed and never found.

Since that day, the Aszman family has lived in a terrible limbo: They knew David was gone. But there was no proof he was dead. So for 42 days, they struggled with grief, dread and hope, an excruciating tangle of emotions for people whose loved ones go missing. They waited for the mystery to be solved, for the anxiety to disappear, for the tragic story to end. David's 22-year-old sister, Vanessa, described the feeling in a recent interview. The Seattle nurse put her hands up to her face like a boxer and said: "It's like having a fist in your face and never knowing when the punch will come."

But the shock of the accident, and the pain of the waiting, already knocked the wind out of Wanda Aszman. Since her middle child disappeared, this soft-spoken potter searched for his face on the street, in parks, in the crowds of kids outside Gresham High. At the same time, she winced when the telephone rang or when the television news switched on. Even the sound of a helicopter made her wonder: Did they find David? Last week, Wanda Aszman said that when his body did appear, she wouldn't have to worry and wonder anymore. But her hope would die, too. "The worst thing is that the dream he's alive would be over." Yet the Aszmans prepared for this day. Vanessa and Wanda worked on a scrapbook to remember David and sorted through books and papers and clothes in his bedroom. His father, Vincent, searched the banks of the Bull Run. Jesse, 16, took to wearing his big brother's class ring on a silver chain around his neck. The family also held a service to honor his memory. One week after the accident, about 500 people packed into the Gresham High auditorium to talk about David. He was a mercurial teen. He had a notorious temper, could be painfully quiet and was a major grouch in the morning. But he was also spectacularly sunny: jamming on his bass guitar with a big grin, cracking jokes with friends at lunch, making faces at his mom in the bathroom mirror. A big fan of Cosmo Kramer, the wacky sidekick on the TV show "Seinfeld," he could slide into a room like a tornado. But at the service, and in the days afterward, David's love of nature and kayaking was remembered most. An avid outdoorsman, David caught his first trout when he was 5 and a year later started rappelling from a maple tree in his back yard. A few years ago, David discovered kayaking. He took lessons, read books and practiced in rivers from the Sandy to the Deschutes. David had gotten so good, he planned on entering professional competitions in Colorado after graduation. "They say I'm obsessed," he wrote in an essay about kayaking. "I don't think I am. I think I am in love, not only with the sport but the lifestyle, the view of the river and the land I cover." David's adoration for the outdoors has flavored remembrances in his name. A plaque for David is nailed to a spruce tree across from the spot on the Bull Run where he disappeared. His family plans to cremate his body and sprinkle his ashes on a hillside at The Cove Palisades State Park, the Jefferson County campground where more than two dozen Aszman family members and friends gather each August to fish, hike and swim. Vincent Aszman, a machinist at the Boeing Co., has another tribute in the works: Designing a kayak that will break apart after a big impact and creating a breathing device that would deliver oxygen to submerged paddlers. The family hopes the equipment will prevent another death, another aching window of waiting. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Wendy Y. Lawton works in The Oregonian's MetroEast bureau. She can be reached by telephone at 294-5938 or by e-mail at wendylawton@news.oregonian.com Tuesday April 13, 1999 ------------------------------------------------------------------------ From: Jacob Selander Date: Tue, 02 Mar 1999 09:52:35 -0800 Subject: Re: Bull Run Accident - March 1, 1999 [...] I really hate telling people about this, but it has to be said. David Aszman was not only a kayaker, but a very close friend of mine. He was involved in a kayaking accident yesterday on the Bull Run, and is now missing and presumed drowned. Here is an earlier email I wrote: ----------------- Yesterday a good friend of mine, David Aszman, was involved in a kayaking accident on the Bull Run river outside of Sandy, OR. As far as I know right now, he is missing and presumed drowned. David was 18, and from what we had talked about, planning on attending college in Eugene in the fall. I recieved a call from his family last night, and right now we are all praying that he is still alive. What I heard from David's brother is that he was playing in a hole, and didn't see a log that was about 100 ft downstream. He capsized, and was flushed into the log. His boating partner at the time, Eric Eekhoff(it was the two of them), managed to get up on the log and attmept to get David off. Not able to remove David, Eric came back later with a chainsaw and was able to remove the log. They found his boat, empty, and his PFD, which was still zipped up, showing no signs of it having been taken off. I haven't heard back from his family yet, but I'm asking everyone in the boating community to pray for him and his family in hopes that David is still alive. I hate bringing people news like this, it's the kind of stuff that just shouldn't happen. But this is a sport where there is always that element of danger, and sometimes there's nothing we can do about it. I don't want to bring this into everyone's lives, but it must be said. Please pray for the Aszman family. --Jacob Selander ------------------------------------------------------------ From: Kevin Sauser Does anyone have any info on the Bull Run accident yesterday? The Oregonian has an article about it in today's paper. They basically said the kayaker got pushed under a log about a mile up from Dodge park. They were able to free the boat but had yet to find the boater. They were going to resume looking today. The Bull Run had a bad weekend as far as boaters are concerned. I was up there on Sunday and met 2 kayakers who had lost a boat in the first 15 minutes of the run starting at the power plant. The rangers at Oxbow said another boat was lost on Saturday. We flipped our raft on the beginning section as well. And now the death. If anyone is considering running Bull Run in the near future, it is not the playful class III run it usually is. I'd put it at big, pushy, class IV-IV+ but I didn't get a chance to see the bottom rapids (the boat did however). It is also difficult to scout and boy, does it look different at water level than from the bank. peteA kayaker died running the Bull Run River, a class IV run near Portland, Oregon, on March 1. Jacob Selander reported on rec.boats.paddle that the victim, David Asman, 18, was playing a hole about 100 yards upstream of a large log. He washed into the tree broadside, and was pushed underneath it. His companion climbed out on the strainer, but could not release the boat. Afterwards, he paddled a mile downstream to Dodge Park where he asked visitors to call 911. He then found park workers with a chain saw and convinced them to drive him back to the accident site. There he ferried the saw across the river, rigged a safety harness for himself, and cut the tree loose. The kayak, possibly with Asman inside, popped to the surface and floated downstream where it was later recovered. Despite a lengthy search by boat and helicopter the body was not located that day.