Accident Database

Report ID# 572

  • Equipment Trap
  • Does not Apply
  • Other

Accident Description

Sumner Falls near Plainfield, N.H.: October 25,1991

23 year old Jamie Lantham drowned when his canoe capsized at Sumner Falls (Hartland Rapids), a class II+ rapid near which often swamps open canoes. The victim was paddling with two other men on a four-day canoe trip down the river. They had emptied their canoe of gear before attempting the rapids. They ran the first two sets of ledges without problems, but capsized in a third at about 5:30 PM. The two surviving men were able to swim to mid-river rocks, but the victim, who was wearing hip waders, was unable to swim. As he was carried downstream, his two companions swam after him in an effort to help but were swept into shore. Local fire departments, alerted by two kayakers, arrived at 6:30 PM. The body was discovered several days later by a New Hampshire Fish and Game dive team.

Source: Brattleboro "Reformer" October 29, 1991

ANALYSIS: Hip waders, when filled with water, are a huge handicap to swimmers in fast water and often cause fatalities. With three paddlers the canoe may well have been overloaded, contributing to the difficulty of negotiating the drop. It seems clear that life vests were worn. (CW)

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