In mid-October southern New Hampshire saw one of the heaviest rain events in recent memory. Towns were devastated by flash flooding and rescue squads worked overtime to pluck people from the rushing water. Tom Mangieri, a respected local businessman, lived on Liberty Farm Road near Antrim. The class IV+ North Branch of the Contoocook River runs along that road. On Oct 9th Mr. Mangieri, 67, was inspecting his flooded home in an open-hole poke boat. Strong currents in the backwater grabbed him and pulled him into the rapids.
According to the Contoocook Valley Villager Mr. Mangieri flipped and swam. He managed to grab a tree limb and although partly submerged he held on for some time. Firefighters from nearby Hillsboro, NH arrived at the scene and attempted to reach him without success. Eventually he was overcome by the relentless current and let go. He passed under a road bridge and was never seen alive again.
This perilous situation is often encountered when operating a boat in flood backwaters. Even when the water looks flat powerful currents may be at work. Although a trained whitewater paddler might have not have problems sensing this, those not familiar with moving water might not. The site of the rescue attempt was a flooded class IV creek, more than many paddlers, much less non-paddling firefighters, can manage. The incident was originally reported statewide as “a whitewater kayaker who got himself into trouble”. The truth is more complicated, and in this case a lot more tragic.