Accident Database

Report ID# 541

  • Caught in a Natural Hydraulic
  • PFD Fell Off
  • Does not Apply
  • Other

Accident Description

Subject: Death on the McKale River

From: Paul Skoczylas

Date: Tue, 08 June 1999>

I received the following email from Ernst Bergmann this morning. I didn't know the victim; he was in the University of Alberta Paddling Society before my time. (The AWA referred to is the Alberta Whitewater Association.) Paul Skoczylas Public Relations Director, UAPS VP Recreation, Alberta Whitewater Association>

It is with difficulty and sadness that I am writing this message. Last Saturday June 5th, 1999 Mark Oddy, former instructor and executive member of the U of A Paddling Society, AWA instructor and an active member of the Jasper River Runners Kayak Club died on the McKale river near McBride BC. According to the report released by McBride RCMP he got trapped in the recirculation of a hole and disappeared. His boat and life jacket were recovered during a subsequent search by his companions, RCMP and rescue personal, but his body has not been found as of this writing.>

Mark Oddy was 30 years old, a resident of Jasper and is survived by his wife and a small daughter. Mark Oddy was well-known and well-liked in the paddling community. He was known as an experienced whitewater boater and a skillful paddler. Mark learned to kayak as a student at the U of A and subsequently became an instructor. He served as part of the UofA PS executive for several years. After leaving the U of A he became a resident of Jasper and very active with the Jasper River Runners.>

I last saw Mark on the Upper Fraser during the '98 season. I was paddling with a group of friends from Edmonton and Hinton. We were trying to surf a very fast wave just above the "Nutcracker" when a group of kayakers from Jasper caught up with us. Among them was Mark, paddling his "Topolino". We got into a little surf competition; impressive considering how slow his little boat was compared to mine. After I relinquished the wave to him we took a break in the eddy by the "Nutcracker" and the group from Jasper passed us. Mark was the last of the group. He smiled and waved to us, playing and surfing in his little boat as they disappeared into the small canyon below the "Nutcracker". That is how I remember him. A superb boater enjoying paddling a beatiful whitewater run.>

There will be a memorial service for Mark Oddy on Thursday June 10th at 7:30pm at the put-in to one of his favourite runs "around the mountain" on the Maligne.>

In lieu of flowers or gifts donations can be made on behalf of Mark's daughter Arnika Montana Oddy-van Oploo at Jasper CIBC. The AWA office will also accept donnations and forward it to the family. Mark's death should serve as a reminder to all of us that our chosen passion has inherent dangers. With skill, experience and judgement we can minimize these risks, but we will never be able to abolish them completely. Be careful out there. Ernst M. Bergmann President Alberta Whitewater AssociationIn British Columbia, Canada comes a report from Ernst Bergmann that Mark Oddy, a long time river runner and instructor from Jasper, died on the McHale River after becoming trapped in a large hole. His boat and PFD were recovered during a subsequent search, but his body had not surfaced days later. No further details on the river or the accident are available, and anyone with more information is urged to contact AW.>

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