Accident Database

Report ID# 922

  • Pinned in Boat against Rock or Sieve
  • Near Drowning
  • Other

Accident Description

On Saturday, 8/3 a kayaker ran the left side of F**k-Up Falls (aka Lost & Found) on the Upper Yough in MD. This is not the normal line. There is a tree across the channel and a big undercut rock. The paddler went totally in under the undercut.

A Keel Hauler, Scott Debalski, observed him disappear. He was in the eddy behind the rock; he jumped out of his kayak, letting it float away. Once on the rock he saw nothing. He then saw a helmet under the water and pulled on it and a head surfaced far enough for him to grab his PFD and pull the hapless kayaker from his boat and out from under the undercut. Eventually the boat was retrieved.

DO NOT RUN THE LEFT SIDE.I was paddling with the person who was pinned. He is a solid paddler, but had not run the river in several years, or at least not this year. He was following a very experienced person down the rapid who took the left line. He hit a rock, and I don't think realized how important it was for him to make the ferry over to the right, and went down the left. I think that he hit the tree jammed under Tombstone rock and it pushed him towards the undercut and wedged him into the slot.

He was completely under for 4-5 minutes, and his arms were trapped so that he could not free himself from his boat. Fortunately, when he lifted his neck up, he could create an air pocket from which to breathe. He said that he was losing strength when Scott came along and pulled him up out of his boat and sprayskirt. Tombstone rock is the only place any paddler has died on the Upper Yough.  

I also heard of someone else taking the right line line that day, who I believe was a first-timer and did so simply because he or she didn't know any better and didn't have a guide. I wonder if there is any reason to be concerned if people are taking the Upper Yough too lightly. A knowledgeable guide for the first half-dozen or so times down is mandatory because the time-frame doesn't allow for scouting everything, There are definitely some nasty spots, like Tombstone, that can't be identified by reading and running, at least not until it is too late.


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