Accident Database

Report ID# 968

  • Swim into Rock or Sieve
  • Does not Apply
  • Other

Accident Description


Near Elkhorn City, KY : October 9, 1993

DESCRIPTION: A Tennessee teenager training to be a whitewater rafting guide on October 9 was killed while running the Russell Fork of the Big Sandy River in the extreme Western portion of Virginia . The Class V section of the run is short, but notorious for steep drops and undercut rocks. Jason Campbell, 17, was running the river with two co-workers. Entering Triple Drop, a succession of 5, 8, and 9' ledges, he fell from the raft and was swept under a downstream ledge where he became caught in ropes and debris. It took his companions over 30 minutes to free him and by then it was too late.

SOURCE: Washington Post

Addendum: The Russel Fork is by far and away the most dangerous stretch of commercially-rafted whitewater in the East because of the prevalence of undercut rocks. The victim, a 17 year-old boy, has been doing support work for a company on the Nolichucky River in TN. That weekend he was helping out with a commercial trip down the Russell Fork Gorge, one of the most dangerous guided runs in the East. He elected to go along, in part to prepare for guiding the following year when he was old enough. In Maze Rapid he fell out of a raft was washed under a well-known undercut rock. The death was litigated by the boy's parents.


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