Accident Database

Report ID# 797

  • Flush Drowning
  • Hypothermia
  • Cold Water
  • Solo Paddling
  • High Water

Accident Description

On March 14th, with the Youghiogheny at Ohiopyle running at a high 7.5 feet, local outfitter Joel Means launched a planned training trip on this popular summer run. Matt Painley, 19, was planning to come along. He was an experienced kayaker, but when he saw the gauge reading he backed down. Soon after they left, however, he changed his mind and put on alone.

Means speculated that he might have been drawn by the perfect play waves that form just downstream, at the top of Entrance Rapid. Somehow he flipped and swam. He was spotted by fishermen in the center of the river below Entrance Rapid, screaming for help. But without the protection of a wetsuit or a drysuit, the icy 43-degree water left him helpless. Guides, who launched soon after he did, found his lifeless body just above Dimple Rapid.

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