Accident Database

Report ID# 857

  • Flush Drowning
  • Hypothermia
  • Cold Water

Accident Description

On June 19th Susan Payne, 52, was swept down Alaska's Portage Creek after capsizing an inflatable kayak. According to the Fairbanks, Alaska News Miner she was able to hold onto some bushes for a while, but let go before the friend who was paddling with her could provide help.

Body of missing kayaker found in Portage Creek

The body of a Colorado woman was found in Portage Creek on Saturday morning, less than a mile downstream of where her kayak overturned. Susan Payne, 52, of Fort Collins, fell out of her inflatable kayak Friday night into the frigid current. She grabbed on to some branches for about 15 minutes, but let go and was swept downstream before anyone could reach her, Alaska State Troopers said.

Payne was in Alaska to work as a U.S. Forest Service volunteer at the Begich, Boggs Visitor Center near Portage Glacier about 50 miles south of Anchorage. On Friday, Payne and fellow volunteer, 52-year-old Mark Hall of Wasilla, set off in their kayaks, trooper spokesman Greg Wilkinson said.

Troopers were notified of the accident shortly after 10 p.m. that night and launched a ground and air search that included the Army National Guard, Girdwood Fire Department, Alaska Search and Rescue dogs, a trooper dive team, Alaska Mountain Rescue Group and numerous volunteers.

Hall complained of chest pains and being extremely cold, and was treated and released, according to Wilkinson. Hall could not be reached Saturday.

The search for Payne continued until early Saturday morning, when it was halted because of poor light. Searchers were back on the scene at 6 a.m., Wilkinson said. Several hours later, Payne's body was found in slow-moving shallow water. She was still wearing a life jacket and chest waders, according to Wilkinson.

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