Accident Database

Report ID# 565

  • PFD Not Worn or Present
  • Does not Apply
  • One Boat Trip

Accident Description


A Midlothian man fell out of a canoe on the James River near Howardsville on April 5th. His body was recovered, caught on a log about a quarter-mile downstream a week later. Forty-year-old Andrew Sluiter slipped out of his unzipped PFD as he and David Cushing struggled with their capsized canoe nearly 100 feet offshore.

"We let out about 20 feet of anchor line in a strong current," Cushing said. "The river was about 10 feet deep. The anchor was attached to the side of the boat and apparently it caught and just flipped the boat."

A Waynesboro man and his grandson were fishing from his john boat when Cushing began yelling for help at the side of the overturned canoe. After four minutes of maneuvering around the canoe and trying to lift and end, Sluiter's unzipped life jacket popped from underneath the canoe. Searchers found two paddles, a hat, and knee pads belonging to Sluiter about two miles downstream.

Analysis: Life jackets can be lifesavers, but only if they are properly fitted and responsibly worn. Anchors have been linked to many capsizings in fast water and must be used with extreme caution. (CW)

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