Accident Database

Report ID# 88774

  • PFD Not Worn or Present
  • Hypothermia
  • Cold Water
  • High Water
  • Inadequate Equipment
  • Inexperience

Accident Description

This is a popular Class II training area for local boaters. At 15,000 cfs it's washed out, but quite fast, with few eddies.

Brothers rescued after falling into the Merrimack River while kayaking

Saturday, April 4, 2020 Jeffrey Hastings

MANCHESTER, NH — Manchester fire received multiple calls of two men, later identified as brothers, in the Merrimack river just before 2 p.m. They were spotted south of the 293 bridge in heavy rapids. The men were spotted clinging on to items, trying to hold on. One of the men was able to swim to an island near the Manchester water treatment plant, the other man was swept downstream. Both were successfully rescued.

Manchester Fire, and Bedford Fire launched boats and watercraft to try to reach the men. NH Fish and Game and Marine Patrol were already north of the incident searching for a victim of a presumed drowning Thursday night. They rushed to the scene as well. Manchester fire launched two boats on the east side of the river and one boat was able to reach the man on the island, who was pulled to safety.

Rescuers reached one of the two men who was standing on a rock in fast-moving water. They first handed him a vest and then pulled him into the boat. Photo/Jeffrey Hastings

MFD and Bedford located the second man clinging to a tree in the middle of heavy rapids with no personal floatation device. MFD and BFD reached  the man to provide a floatation device. Once the man had the vest on MFD brought a boat close enough that the man could be pulled into the boat. The man clenched on to one of the rescuers as he was brought to shore where medical personnel were waiting.

The men identified themselves as brothers who decided to take kayaks in the river, but “weren’t equipped properly to be in the river this time of year,” according to Manchester District Chief Hank Martineau, from the scene. Neither man had a personal floatation device on at the time of the incident. The kayaks were washed down stream. Bedford Fire / EMS checked both men for injuries and provided dry clothing to them.

“Due to the extreme conditions and the water temperature these two individuals are lucky to be alive,” Martineau wrote in a summary incident report.

The body of the missing man from Thursday night has not been recovered. Divers from Fish and Game and a boat from Marine Patrol continued to search Saturday.

Join AW and support river stewardship nationwide!