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Experienced/Inexperienced
Private/Commercial
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Accident Description


In North Carolina two rental raft customers died in separate foot entrapments on the Nantahala River, a popular Class II-III run,  in 1997oth were guests of the Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC), a respected outfitter with over two decades of experience on the river. Although several hard boaters have drowned in the Nantahala over the years, these were the first to involve rafters. All five fatalities on the Nantahala since the mid-70’s were caused by foot entrapment.

On August 4, 1997 at 2:30 p.m. Jack Meadows, 58, fell out of his raft at "the Bump", a small pourover on river left in the rapid just upstream of Nantahala Falls. He attempted to stand and caught his foot 30-40 feet downstream of this feature. The recovery was made by private paddlers from Camp Merrie Woode, Western Carolina University, and others. They lowered a raft downstream to Jack with several people inside it, then pulled him free. This operation required 15-20 minutes. That was a very respectable time, but sadly, not fast enough

SOURCE: Conversations with NOC staff members

In North Carolina two rental raft customers died in separate foot entrapments on the Nantahala River, a popular Class II-III run,  Both were guests of the Nantahala Outdoor Center (NOC), a respected outfitter with over two decades of experience on the river. This information comes from press releases issued by the outfitter, various newspaper articles and Internet postings. Although several hard boaters have drowned in the Nantahala over the years, these were the first to involve rafters. All five fatalities on the Nantahala since the mid-70’s were caused by foot entrapment.

 On August 4, 1997 at 2:30 p.m. Jack Meadows, 58, fell out of his raft at "the Bump", a small pourover on river left in the rapid just upstream of Nantahala Falls. He attempted to stand and caught his foot 30-40 feet downstream of this feature. The recovery was made by private paddlers from Camp Merrie Woode, Western Carolina University, and others. They lowered a raft downstream to Jack with several people inside it, then pulled him free. This operation required 15-20 minutes. That was a very respectable time, but sadly, not fast enough SOURCE: Conversations with NOC staff members ANALYSIS: (Walbridge) 1. It is difficult to imagine what more could have been done to prevent this tragedy. The Nantahala is heavily used, with dozens of outfitters and tens of thousands of rental guests making successful runs each year. NOC takes great pains to prepare their rental guests. In addition to signing a waiver warning them of the dangers, clients are required to watch an orientation video which specifically discusses foot entrapment. Anyone not wishing to take the trip after seeing the video has the option of signing up for a guided trip or receiving a refund. In addition, the bus driver discusses the lines through Nantahala Falls and Patton's Run during the drive to the put-in.

ANALYSIS: (Walbridge)

1. It is difficult to imagine what more could have been done to prevent this tragedy. The Nantahala is heavily used, with dozens of outfitters and tens of thousands of rental guests making successful runs each year. NOC takes great pains to prepare their rental guests. In addition to signing a waiver warning them of the dangers, clients are required to watch an orientation video which specifically discusses foot entrapment. Anyone not wishing to take the trip after seeing the video has the option of signing up for a guided trip or receiving a refund. In addition, the bus driver discusses the lines through Nantahala Falls and Patton's Run during the drive to the put-in.