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Accident Description


One day last July, 1990 four people from the Spring Grove, PA area decided to run the Lower Codorus. Three were nineteen years old and had relatively no experience and the fourth was an adult, who said the run was easy, no problem. Together, they rented two aluminum canoes and headed out for the mighty Lower Codorus. With them they had the traditional four paddles and four Type-IV seat cushions.

Putting on the stream under the Route 24 bridge, the stream showed relatively low water at the gauge. A couple miles downstream, this stream narrows down for three, Class III rapids. The first, Lead Shot, was successfully run by both canoes. The second rapids, Upper Dee, involves dodging rocks and going around a pinning rock in midstream known as Roostertail Rock. As the four sat on their cushions on the seats of the canoe they failed to maneuver past the pinning rock. The first canoe flipped and broached the rock and the paddlers, cushions, and paddles all went in generally different directions. The second canoe followed the same course and ended up in the same position as the first. Now the canoes were bent, broken, and damaged, and equipment had to be recovered before the trip could continue.

Both canoes had holes in them and were bent to a degree. All equipment went downstream without their paddlers. Realizing their problems, the four decided to "make" lifejackets out of their denim jeans. They disrobed, tied the legs together and pushed in air to provide floatation to the device.

Downstream, they lost it again, including their makeshift lifejackets which promptly deflated and sank. The canoes were recovered once again, and the group limped downstream again to the take-out.

At the take-out, Codorus Furnace, the paddlers arrived with only their two damaged canoes, and a few paddles. They themselves stood at the take-out dressed in underwear and short sleeved shirts (actually only three were wearing underwear; the fourth didn't put any on that day).

Repairs to the canoes consisted of hammering out one canoe and welding it in six places. The other canoe was not repairable and had to be replaced by the group.

The morals of the story are many but "prior planning prevents poor performance" seems to cover most of them.

SOURCE: John H. Curtioff, Advisor, Biglerville Hi-Y (school club)