Victim?: NZ, 31, Male
Location?: Otago/Nevis/Last hard rapid?
A group of five paddlers were close to finishing the challenging Nevis River, when one paddler capsized on the last hard rapid (cascade rapid on a left-hand bend). As he leaned forward to protect his face and roll, the paddler was 'pile-driven' into a rock, hitting his head with considerable force and snapping his paddle shaft. The kayaker rolled up and became stuck in a small hole in the bottom of the rapid and capsized again. Unable to get out of the hole with half a paddle, the paddler swam to shore with all equipment.
The kayaker had a large gash to top of head which was bleeding copiously and complained of a sore back. The wound was succesfully bandaged. A split paddle enabled the trip to continue. The paddler suffered considerable back pain, but it was more painful to portage than paddle. Soon after, the kayaker's boat split and was unpaddleable. Two team members paddled out to get a helicopter, two others stayed with the victim. He changed into warm, dry clothes and waited approx. two hours for the helicopter to arrive. The victim was transported to Frankton hospital for stitches. X-rays identified two vertebrae with compression fractures.
This was an experienced team of kayakers paddling a difficult river. The team was well prepared for this incident, carrying split paddles, spare dry clothing, food, throwbags, rescue equipment and a cellphone. They had plenty of daylight allowing two paddlers to stay with victim until the helicopter arrived and still be able to paddle out. It was interesting that, despite a 10cm gash to the head, the victim's helmet was not marked (perhaps a flat rock surface?). Despite this the helmet was retired and put in pride of place on the mantlepiece as a life-saver!
Kayaker injured, 7 February 2005, p3, ODT (Copy & paste link)
Created: 2005-03-14, changed: 2005-03-14.