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Little River Foot Entrapment: March 11, 2013

Posted: 03/28/2013
by Charlie Walbridge

At around noon on March 11th Steve Senior, a 65 year-old open canoeist, was running Tennessee's Little River with a large group. He flipped in the first drop of "the Meanies" just above The Sinks and washed downstream over a 6' ledge. He was swimming on his back, feet first, lined up with the current when he washed into the backwash and did not reappear. The water "planted" him vertically in rocks below the drop, catching his foot.

Several paddlers who had had set safety below this drop threw their ropes into the hole. When Mr. Senior did not grab hold, they tried to swim into the hole from downstream. When this was not successful, several paddlers clipped lines into their PFD and attempted a "live bait" rescue. Some of the rescue swimmers had rescue PFD's; others did not. Finally a swimmer was tethered to lines coming from downstream and one side; wheen this dis not place the rescuer in position a third rope from the opposite shore was added. Initial contact pulled off Mr. Senior's helmet and PFD. Finally the rescuer was able to grab Mr. Senior's arm and tie a rope to his wrist. It took a good bit of pulling to free the pinned man. Partway through the extraction the rope began to slip off the victim's wrist and a second line had to be thrown out and attached.

Mr. Senior had been under water for 27 minutes. Several group members had medical training and began CPR. Park service personnel brought a Stokes Litter and secured him in place. Everyone worked together to get the litter to the road so he could be taken to a nearby hospital. Although Mr. Senior began breathing on his own, he did not survive. He passed away the following morning.


Charles Walbridge
Bruceton Mills, WV