Accident Database

Report ID# 758

  • Equipment Trap
  • Swim into Strainer
  • Does not Apply
  • Cold Water

Accident Description

According to an online report by Scott Bowman, Thomas "J.T." Middleton, 40, of Grants Pass, Oregon, drowned on the Upper Middle Fork of the Smith River near Idlewild, Oregon, on December 28, 2002.

On a high-water weekend in the Smith watershed, Middleton was following another boater. Both were very familiar with this section of river. It is not entirely clear exactly what happened to Middleton; when his companion saw him, he was swimming in the big water. Neither his companion nor the shuttle driver could get to him before Middleton floated into a log.

By the time rescue personnel could be in place to attempt a recovery, the twilight made them postpone the effort until the following day, when Middleton's body was recovered.

An examination at the scene showed that Middleton's waist-mounted throw rope was fully deployed, wrapped tightly around his body. This may have contributed to his failed self-rescue.Two paddlers, both very experienced.

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