Incident 19980208

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19980208?, 8 February 1998 12:00?, Fatal accident? / Swim?
Victim?: NZ, 25, Male
Location?: Otago/Kawarau/Roaring Meg/Near 'Birdsnest Eddy'?

Class?: III
Flow?: 315cu , "Medium"
Boat Type?: Kayak-Touring/Dagger RPM
Trip Type?: Private


Victim paddled upstream from put-in into a 'birdsnest' eddy which collects debri from powerful currents. The victim capsized and did not attempt to roll and his kayak appeared to be empty. His companions searched from the river and banks and after several minutes the victim appeared around 30m downstream. Two paddlers recovered the victim and formed a raft with their kayaks (a Perception Pirouette S and a QK Bandit) and managed to administer CPR for 10-12 breaths. However, the raft disintegrated in the next rapids with one paddler swimming to shore. The other kayaker chased the victim through further rapids and he was eventually brought to sure 700m below the Roaring Meg powerstation. CPR was continued by fellow paddlers and passing motorists. Emergency services arrived quickly but resuscitation was unsuccessful.


The victim was experienced, well-equipped, in an appropriate kayak and accompanied by competent companions.

The specific eddy appears to become a vortex at certain flows.

The MSA report concluded that the paddler fell victim to 'inherent danger' in whitewater kayaking.

On any Sunday, Autumn 1998, Sue Oloman, NZ Canoeing.
MSA Report 98742 (PDF, 62k)

Reported by?: Jonathan Hunt
Created: 2004-04-10, changed: 2004-05-07.