Tarrifville Gorge on the Farmington River is a popular Class II-III training and practice area just west of Hartford, Connecticut. On April 18th a kayaker drowned on bridge piers located at the start of this section. These are three concrete slabs spaced five feet apart with only 3" sticking above the waterline. Paddlers who frequent the area can easily spot these hazards and avoid them.
According to posts made to The Northeast Paddler's Message Board, Dean Forostoski, 49, was kayaking with a club trip when he washed into this hazard and pinned.. Two local playboaters and two bystanders saw what happened and moved in to help. The bystanders struggled to hold Mr. Forostoski's head above water while the playboaters struggled to release the boat. They were not successful; the abutment was quite slippery and both the boat and its occupant were sinking deeper. It was only when a rope was thrown from shore that a large group of paddlers applied enough force to release the pin. Mr. Forostoski, who had been under water for fifteen minutes by this time, was brought to shore where rescue squads waited. CPR began, and a helicopter transported him to Hartford Hospital where he later died. This incident reminds us that simple errors can be deadly. Keep alert and never forget the awesome forces you are dealing with!