A
young kayaker (age 22) from Cleveland, Georgia, died at Left Crack on
Section IV of the Chattooga on Thursday evening, June 13,1996. The water
level was reported to be about 1.8 feet. As part of a small group,
he was evidently trying to scout either Middle Crack or Right Crack
from the left bank by jumping from rock to rock when he slipped and
fell into the water on the upstream side of the rocks. Being unable
to climb back on the rocks, he attempted to swim back to the left
bank in front of Left Crack and was washed into the hour glass shaped
opening in the chute, where he became entrapped and drowned. At some
point, a rope was reportedly thrown to him, but it missed or was not
seen.

The
body recovery did not go well. In attempting to pull his body from
the chute, the rescue squad partially dismembered the body, it was so
tightly wedged. Attempts to recover the remaining parts of the body
were called off after several days, and the next day a boater
discovered the remains floating in an eddy below Crack, pulled it up
on shore, and notified authorities upon reaching the take-out.

Efforts
are now underway to try to get more specific and more visible warning
signs posted at the put-ins for Section IV, and possibly even at
specific locations like Crack in the Rock, spelling out the dangers
involved in being in the water around this death trap that has
claimed so many lives.

Meanwhile,
please pass the word among your friends and paddling partners about
this and all other known dangers on our rivers. We are all aware
that our sport has certain inherent dangers, but these can be
minimized by communication, education and cooperation. We must all
watch out after each other. Friends should tell friends when they’re
doing something dangerous or dumb.