Charles “Chuck” Kern, 27, a member of the U.S. kayak team from Stowe, Vermont, drowned on August 14th when he became pinned against a boulder while attempting to run a treacherous portion of the Gunnison River.

Kern was in a party of six, including two of his brothers, who were kayaking the river when he attempted to kayak a section of the river that is normally portaged (a long portage of 4-6 hours). The bow of his kayak became pinned beneath a boulder as he lost momentum while passing through a short falls.

The other members of the party were able to tie a line to the stern of Kern’s kayak, but the river flow of 1200 cubic feet per second (cfs) prevented them from dislodging the kayak. The incident was reported, river levels were lowered to 600 cfs, and rangers and members of two local rescue teams were able to reach and remove Kern’s body and his kayak.

During the investigation of the incident, one member of the party said that he still thought the rapid could be run.

by Linda Alick, via the NPS Morning Report – 8/21/97