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Richmond, VA river accidents

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12 paddlers were involved in an accident on the James River on Memorial Day. They were swept over a low head dam in high water. 10 of the paddlers were rescued. One woman's body was recovered on Wednesday, but a second woman has not been found.

The river gauge was at 9 feet, or over 20,000 CFS, on Memorial Day. At that level, Richmond requires river runners to have PFDs and permits.



In a second Memorial Day incident several miles downstream, two stranded tubers were rescued by a paddleboarder.

 
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What is a "float?" The women were on floats, per article.
 
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Journalists don't always understand our sport, Erica. The first report I read referred to the victims as "kayakers." If you look closely at the aerial photo of the dam, there appear to be a kayak, a paddleboard, and an inner-tube-like object trapped in the backwash. I think the last of these is a "float." Looks to me like something that belongs in a kiddie pool and not on a large river.
 
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Per Google maps it is about 4 miles from Robious Landing, where the women planned to take out, to Bosher Dam. It is kind of hard to imagine that the pair was unable to get to shore within 4 river miles assuming they recognized they had passed the landing and knew the dam was there.
 

Glenn MacGrady

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20,000+ cfs is monster water, more than the average release of the Colorado River into the Grand Canyon. The water was likely in the trees, possibly making getting to shore difficult with a danger of tree or branch entrapment drowning. Novices like tubers have no idea of dangers of such powerful waters or low head dams.
 
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Sounds like the two tubers were sharing one tube. They would have little or no chance of steering to shore in that kind of flow and probably didn't see the dam until it was way too late. I'm guessing the paddleboarders in the group were not experienced, either. Sad. Surprised this was not covered by the Paddle Prattle board, which usually covers paddling accidents in the MD/VA area.

 
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What is a "float?" The women were on floats, per article.
"Float" is just mid-atlantic vernacular for a river outing where you're tubing or paddling. It might be used other places too. I was never a fan of the term because it sounds kind of passive and paddling isn't passive!
 
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