On September 22, 1996 there was an unexplained commercial fatality on the Lower Gauley. The victim was 52 year-old woman with a history of asthma. She was taking a trip with one of the area's largest outfitters when she fell out of her raft in "Rocky Top", a minor rapid on the Lower Gauley near "Chicken Ender". Guides reported that the spot she fell into was no more difficult than Class II+. She was pulled into the boat quickly and was clearly in distress. She was brought to shore; CPR was initiated, and a life flight helicopter was called. The victim was picked up 30 minutes later, a remarkable response time in such a remote area. She had a pulse when evacuated, but could not be revived. She was pronounced dead at the hospital.
SOURCE: WV DNR accident Summary; rec.boats.paddle postings, conversations with area guides and outfitters, Charleston Gazette
ANALYSIS: (Walbridge) It is clear from this and other incidents that asthma may increases the risk of drowning in whitewater, especially if the water is cold. People suffering from this condition are advised to take all precautions, including the use of cold weather gear in the off-season