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Accident Description

Mongap Rapid near Port Jervis, N.Y.: April 28,1990
Volume: Moderate. Classification: II

DESCRIPTION: The victim was a member of a party of five, who had rented a raft for a day of paddling on the Delaware River. They had received the usual safety lecture from Kittatiny Canoes, which is quite adequate.

The party had just come through the Class II rapid created by the confluence with the Mongaup River on the New York side. The victim had been wearing his PFD, but removed it shortly after the rapid was completed.

While floating through a calm stretch on a moderate current, the victim was engaged in horseplay with another member of the party. Both individuals, neither wearing a PFD, fell into the water at about 2:50 PM. This section of river is about fifteen feet deep, and the victim was unable to swim. A PFD was thrown to the victim; he surfaced two or three times, but could not grab it.

Member of the party, and kayakers who were nearby made an effort to rescue the victim, but without success. The body was not recovered until 4:30 PM, after divers from the Port Jervis Dive Team arrived.

ANALYSIS: Everything possible was done to help the victim, from the time his party rented the raft, to the actual rescue. The outfitter had provided adequate safety instruction and gear. Efforts by those present were valiant, and appropriate, although not successful.

Once again, this accident proves the saying, "it won't work, if you don't wear it!" And should serve as a reminder to all of us, to wear our PFD's, regardless of the class of water we are on.

SOURCE: Wayne A. Sundmacher, Professional River Instruction