Accident Database

Report ID# 796

  • PFD Not Worn or Present
  • Does not Apply
  • Cold Water
  • High Water
  • One Boat Trip

Accident Description

This has been the wettest spring ever on the East Coast, so it’s not surprising that a number of high-water fatalities occurred. According to a Boatertalk posting by Ann Connolly, Three men from Douglas, Alabama woke up on February 22nd and decided that the Locust Fork, which was flooding at 11.4 feet, would be fun in a raft. They found a $25 raft and paddles at Wal-Mart but neglected to buy PFD’s. They made one successful run from the Route 79 Bridge, and then decided to do it again.

Just above Swan Bridge they hit a large hole and were thrown end-over-end into the rushing water. Two of the men swam to safety, but Darrell Fleming, 25, did not. Yelling, “I got the raft, don’t worry, I can swim” he righted the boat and climbed back in. Unfortunately, he had no paddle! When he didn’t appear at the next bridge survivors notified authorities. Search efforts were concentrated at Skookum Bluff, a waterfall downstream. Ultimately his family braved flooded trails to search the riverbank upstream of the falls and found his body.

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