Victim Age
Water Level
Cause Code(s)
Injury Type(s)
Factors Code(s)
Boat Type
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Accident Description

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.



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 Sunday morning.

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 kayaker.


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."


41-year-old Chip Sizemore of Sylvania died Saturday in a kayak accident.

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 said.

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 experience.

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.

Kayaker came out of his boat above a 4-5 ft ledge
and became pinned. Rescue attempt was initiated 
immediately but was unsuccessful. This happened 
at the last good rapid on the Upper 2 about a half
mile above the chairlift trail. The pinning rock in this 
rapid only appears at this low level, it’s not a factor 
at higher levels.