Why Kayaking Accidents and Deaths Are On the Rise

Kayaking accidents and deaths are on the rise, which prompted Jason Clay to pen “How to Survive (and Enjoy) Potentially Dangerous Rafting Season,” Colorado Parks and Wildlife. The major causes of rafting fatalities are as a result of “runoff from a snowpack more than 600 percent above the median” (Roberts).

Three days after writing the safety tips, the water had claimed three bodies who went rafting but never returned. In addition, Roberta Sophia Rodriguez from Colorado went missing after flipping off kayak while voyaging in the Rio Grande River. Her case is not isolated because there has been a distress call reported by Mineral County. On the 15 June 2019, they received a call related to kayaking fatality of a woman who drowned at the south fork of Rio Grande River (Roberts).

Major causes of the recent upsurge in kayak deaths are “Fast and full rivers, creeks and streams, plus lakes and reservoirs at or near capacity” which are attracting a huge number of rafters from within and outside the state (Roberts). Coupled with people disobeying rules and regulations governing the use of watercraft, ignoring safety kayaking clothing, such as jackets for lifesavers, waterproof backpack bags, and more.

The fatalities are scary going by the statistics from the authorities and cases reported. Furthermore, a man from Texas drowned in the Arkansas River while on a Boy Scout trip, with the cause attributed to bad weather and inadequate knowledge of the area. Besides, a “Russia’s Nikolay Pezhemskiy lost his life when his raft flipped on the Eagle River” (Roberts).

The accidents in the same river happened in a span of a few days, and as a result, water users to seek relevant information about the place they are visiting. Further, residents to note the recent surge in flooding which followed the prolonged drought in Colorado and prepares adequately for the outdoor activities namely, rafting, kayaking, tubing, paddle boarding, wakeboarding or plain ol’ swimming, and more.

Gunnison Kayak Accident

In a separate incidence, two women paddlers died near Gunnison when they fall off the kayak and a paddle board respectively. One of the victims who felt off the paddle board died in the River Gunnison, while the other victim died at the Blue Mesa Reservoir when her kayak turned over (Reaman). It is reported that the heavy spring runoff is making rivers unnavigable, and paddlers are advised to be cautious and observe rafting safety measures. Besides, tree logs buried under the water is causing trouble for drowning people, for instance, a “31-year-old female lost control of her board and later got hung up on a tree that was in the water ” (Reaman).

Due to the bad weather conditions, a number of river closures remain in effect to protect water users. To avoid more kayaks and paddling fatalities in many states, users are reminded to exercise extreme caution. Moreover, they should be on the lookout for debris, trees, and another obstacle in the water. In addition, changes in water level due to weather requires adequate preparation and this call for putting on kayaking gears. Further, members of the public are cautioned to check out the high winds and water temperature, which are responsible for fatalities and other diseases. For instance, warm temperature result in massive rainfall in some part of the states, and users are advised to take note of the abrupt changes in temperature conditions.

Besides bad weather, watercraft accidents are as a result of not wearing safety vests. For example, a husband and a wife recovered in Maryland “were not wearing life jackets, and it is not known whether alcohol was a factor.” The deaths occurred at the South River near the Route 2 Bridge in Edgewater at about 2.am. Besides, more people have died in waterways in Maryland and officials put the figures at 11 on the reported cases (Hedgpeth).

Kayaking accidents is not sparing anyone regardless of their careers. A marine mechanic was found dead in Curtis Bay and further investigation revealed that he was performing a test run on a broken boat but never reported back. In addition, The Washing Post reports that an “Off-duty Secret Service agent on presidential protective detail dies in Md. kayaking accident” (Hedgpeth). Moreover, water accidents are not only as a result of bad weather but due to barriers and navigational structures erected by marine officials. For instance, the couple’s personal watercraft hit a type of “navigational aid,” such as a utility pole, in the water.”

To make the rescue easier, water users to pass information about their intended trip to persons known to them, such as a spouse, friends, relatives, and more. In the same way, “a man reported that his wife had not shown up at a planned meeting place on Friday afternoon” (Reaman). The couple had kayaked together in the morning hours but separated with each taking a different turn only for the man to turn up for the meeting alone. It was at the meeting venue that the man realized that something was amiss, and because he had information on where the wife was kayaking, it aided the authorities is search of the body.

Kayak Fatalities High in June and July

Lastly, the months of June and July of every year record high watercraft fatalities, because it is during this period that rivers and other water bodies are full due to the adequate rainfall. In Maryland, officials estimate that more than half of annual boating accidents happen in the month of June and July respectively.

To avoid the rise in deaths, adequate preparation is required, use of seaworthy vessels and impaired persons to avoid kayaking, onboard paddlers to wear recommended the personal floating device, and during an emergency, the affected and members of the public to notify the authorities by dialing the 911. Further, to protect your belongings, carry with a waterproof dry backpack sack.


ROBERTS, MICHAEL. (2019, JUNE). Missing Woman’s Body Recovered, Rafting Season Fatality Count at Six. Denver Westword, LLC.

AP. 2 dead after apparent kayaking accident identified. Apnews.

Hedgpeth, Dana. (2019, July). Husband, wife from Virginia die in personal watercraft accident in Maryland . The Washington post.

Leave a comment