[The
following information is compiled from Internet Newsgroup
“rec.boats.paddle” submissions from several users,
including Chris Bell of the Western Carolina Paddlers.]

The
Tuesday (8/6/96) Asheville Citizen-Times carried a front page story
about a rafting death on the Nantahala River:

“Billy
Jack Meadows, 58, of Douglasville, Georgia, drowned Sunday afternoon
after he got out of the raft he rented at the Nantahala Outdoor
Center and tried to help two others who had fallen out.

“Meadows
and his family were on a non-guided trip. Accounts of the accident
vary, but both Swain County investigators and Nantahala Outdoor
Center leaders say Meadows got one of his feet snagged in an
underwater rock.”

The
story didn’t say where the accident occurred, and as yet, the paper
hasn’t run its standard editorial on the need to “fill the
killer cracks” on the Nantahala.

Other
sources have placed the accident at the rapid just above the scouting
take-out for Lesser Wesser. The rescue / body retrieval reportedly
took about 15 minutes. This accident constitutes the first fatality
suffered by a customer of the outfitters on the Nantahala River, and
was, as mentioned in the article quoted above, a non-guided trip.

All
NOC raft rental customers are required to view a safety video
educating them on the dangers of white water rafting, which includes
a segment on foot entrapments, and to sign a waiver that states they
have viewed the video and accept the risks inherent in running the
river.

We
are all saddened by any fatality on a river, particularly the river
that so many of us in the Southeast cut our teeth on, so to speak.
Our hearts go out to the family and friends of Mr. Meadows.

From
The Eddy Line, September 1996