Accident Database

Report ID# 673

  • Caught in Low Head Dam Hydraulic
  • Does not Apply
  • Inexperience

Accident Description

On 4th of July weekend the Macomb, Michigan Daily reported that three kayak accidents occurred on the nearby Clinton River, which was running high due to recent rains. All involved inexperienced people in rented boats.

On July 3rd James Gentz, 56, drowned after attempting to run a low head dam at the Yates Cider Mill near Oakland, Michigan. There was a fatality at this spot in 1999, but despite this tragedy no portage paths or new warning signs were visible. According to local paddlers posting to, all of these fatalities involved sit-on top kayaks. The river itself is Class I at best during normal summer flows, and is often too shallow to float a canoe.

The Oakland, Michigan Free Press reported that the popularity of kayaking on the Clinton River has grown a lot during the past few years. Many stores near the river rent kayaks for $10 per hour. Because of changing water levels, these operations may need to develop a policy to cut off rentals when the river becomes too high. Potential renters also need to become more aware of the dangers they'll encounter when paddling rivers.

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