A local paddler says it was a strainer between Road Block and Humpty Dumpty; water was very low; 200 cfs; barely runnable. Another local say the victim and a friend were regular paddlers, but were not involved in the whitewater community. They generally ran class II-III whitewater, not IV-V.
ONE DEAD IN KAYAKING ACCIDENT
IN LITTLE RIVER CANYON NATIONAL
The National Park Service said they had to call off the
search for the 41-year-old's body Saturday afternoon because of the weather.
Posted: Oct 26, 2019
By: Will Robinson-Smith, Casey Albritton
The National Park Service confirmed to WAAY 31 that one
person is dead following a kayaking accident. Park Ranger Matt Switzer said a
41-year-old from DeKalb County somehow got pinned under a rock. A 911 call went
out around 11:38 a.m. on Saturday and the search began shortly thereafter. The search was suspended around 4 p.m. because of the
weather. The search, which is now classified as a recovery effort, will resume
The Alabama Law Enforecement Agency (ALEA) search
helicopter will be used in the recovery effort. In addition to the National
Park Service and ALEA, the DeKalb County Sheriff's Office responded to the
scene along with the Fort Payne Fire Department, Tucker Volunteer Fire
Department, DeKalb County Emergency Management Agency and DAS.
Officials have not yet released the name of the missing
Part of the Little River Canyon National Preserve had to
shut down on Saturday afternoon following what park officials called an
"emergency medical incident." The preserve stated that the Canyon Rim Parkway from County
Road 255 to Graces High Falls was closed shortly after 2 p.m. Officials asked via social media that "For the safety
of first responders, we thank you staying away from this area."
KAYAKER'S BODY IDENTIFIED AND RECOVERED FROM LITTLE RIVER
CANYON RESERVE IN DEKALB CO.
41-year-old Chip Sizemore of Sylvania died Saturday in a
Posted: Oct 27, 2019 4:37 PM
Posted By: Alex Torres-Perez
The DeKalb County Coroner identified the man who died while
kayaking on Little River Canyon. 41-year-old Chip Sizemore of Sylvania died
Saturday after officials say he somehow flipped from his kayak and got pinned
under a rock.
"It's a community. We are all here to experience and
love the same things. It's tragic when something like this happens, so we do
our best to get that loved one back," Matt Switzer said. Switzer has been
a park ranger for the Little Canyon Center for around three months. He says
this is his first death since he started working here. "It's always hard,
especially seeing the family grieving there as well," Switzer said.
That's why he and first responders in the area did their
best to help recover Sizemore as quickly as possible. Search efforts resumed at
around 7 this morning. Park rangers said they had to suspend the recovery
effort on Saturday because the river rose more than a foot while they were
trying to extract the victim. Park rangers were assisted by several departments
across the county: Fischer Rescue, DeSoto Rescue, Dogtown Fire, Fort Payne
Fire, Tucker’s Chapel Volunteer Fire, DeKalb County Sheriff Office, Alabama Law
Enforcement Agency (ALEA), DeKalb County Emergency Management Agency, and
DeKalb Ambulance Service.ALEA even brought a helicopter to help with the
recovery efforts because they all know how important it is for the family.
"It could be anybody's mother, father, sister,
brother, son or daughter out there. We all have families as well and we would
love the absolute, most attention given to the recovery," Switzer said. Park
rangers say Sizemore's body was recovered at around 12:13 p.m. His body was
turned over to the county coroner. They say they're glad they could bring some
sort of closure to the family. "It's in our nature. First responders go
out there for a reason. They have those jobs for a reason. They want to take
care of the public and want to do their best to keep them safe," Switzer
Carley Sizemore Windsor (his sister) via Facebook on 10/28/2019
He was my first best friend. I am crushed and broken. I
don’t know what we’re going to do without him.
These are the phrases I’ve said and typed probably a
thousand times since Saturday afternoon. And I’m sure I’ll type/say them at
least a thousand more. I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to share anything; I
truly have not been able to put the words together. For those of you who may
not know, I lost my middle brother on Saturday. He and Chad were doing their
favorite thing, kayaking. It had been since July in Gatlinburg (I think) that
they’d been able to go anywhere together because of the drought. Little River
was just barely high enough for them to even put their boats in, but they did
it anyway because they were itching for some whitewater! My brothers took care
of each other on the water, and knew the limits of their capabilities and
Chad has explained it several times over, and I’ve caught
pieces of it each time, and these are the details as I understand it, so
hopefully there’s no confusion...Chad went over the rapid first then waited for
Chip to come over. Chip’s kayak and paddle came over, but no Chip. Chad got out
and went to him, Chip was assuring him that he was fine, over and over, just
stuck. Chad worked for probably an hour to get his leg out of the cleft in the
rock, but couldn’t. Chad went to get a paddle to try and pry him out, and when
he got back to him, he was gone.
I believe the Lord took Chip in that moment. I believe the
Lord knew Chad wasn’t coming out of that river otherwise. When Chad realized
that he was gone, he made the agonizing decision to climb up out of the canyon
and make the call to our parents and to rescuers.
Speaking of rescuers, I want to say how extremely blessed
we are to have the amazing first responders we have in this area. As horrible
of a day as it was, we were blown away by the professionalism and care they
expressed as they worked to get Chip out, all while keeping us as informed and
as comforted as they could at each step of the process. They were precious men
and women, doing God’s work this weekend. They prayed with us and they prayed
for us. I don’t want to start listing the different groups because I’m afraid
I’ll forget one, but I want to give a special thank you to Sheriff Nick Weldon
and Chief Deputy Sheriff Brad Gregg for being with our family. Brad goes to
church with us, and we’ve know Nick since elementary school. It gave us comfort
having them there as well. I’m thankful for every last one of them that made the
trek down into that canyon to try and get my brother. Oh, and to the dude in
the chopper: you don’t know how cool Chip would’ve thought that was! Thank you
for flying him outta there.