Accident Database

Report ID# 608

  • Equipment Trap
  • Does not Apply
  • One Boat Trip

Accident Description

On October 17, 1999 a fisherman drowned on Tennessee’s Hiwassee River at the Powerhouse put-in. He was 39 years old and had traveled to this, his favorite river, with his best friend to fly fish. Meanwhile, his family in Chattanooga was preparing a surprise birthday party for evening.

The victim and his friend were experienced fly fishermen who had used float tubes to access the river before. They put in at the powerhouse. The victim was walking in the river and adjusting his fly rod when he tripped and fell. The fall left him upside down in the water with the float tube around his body. He was trapped with his legs and feet above the water and his head below. He was unable to right himself, and floated for about10 minutes to the boater’s put-in. A kayaker quickly got in his boat and brought the float tube and victim to the shore. Then the kayaker and his wife, a nurse, immediately began CPR.

Our group reached the put in and was asked for help. CPR had been in process for about 15 minutes, and the victim's face had a bluish appearance. Efforts continued until the ambulance arrived. When the victim was taken away from the scene, we held no hope that he would be revived.

SOURCE: Unsigned post  

ANALYSIS: (From The fisherman had on very nice fishing gear.  He had the boots, the pants, the shirt, the tube, but no PFD. A Forest Ranger advised us that if the victim had been wearing a PFD as required by law, he would not have "capsized"--but instead the PFD would have forced his upper body back to the surface and he could have "righted" himself.

Join AW and support river stewardship nationwide!