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Tyler Legg
Charlotte, NC, United States
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Monday, April 26, 2010
 From News Topic.net (Lenoir, NC newspaper)

A 65-year-old Virginia man drowned Thursday afternoon after slipping off a rock along Wilson Creek.

The man was fishing with Gary Hammerstone, a friend of his from Morganton, about a mile or so past Brown Mountain Beach store. Caldwell County Emergency Services Director Tommy Courtner said Hammerstone told rescue officials he was fishing downstream a short distance from his friend when he heard a yell. When he went to check, his buddy was nowhere to be found.

Rescue crews from several agencies were dispatched at 2:24 p.m. ATV teams, ground search teams and dive teams were requested because officials were not certain at first if they were conducting a water or land search.

As it turned out, a second sweep of the Wilson Creek area between Brown Mountain Beach campground and Lady on the Rock led to the discovery of the victim, whose name will not be released until his family members have been located and notified of his death. His body was found at 4:38 p.m. lying flat on the bottom of the river about 15-20 feet below the surface.

Courtner said the man was wearing chest waders, and it appeared that they filled when he fell into the icy water. The victim was unable to get the waders off to get out of the river.

“The waders held him down,” Courtner said. “With the water temperature and the down time – more than two hours – there was no opportunity for survival.”

Det. B.J. Fore of the Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office said that all indications point to an accidental death at this time.

Courtner said Hammerstone told him this was the second time he and his friend had fished at Wilson Creek. They also were there last year.

Approximately 30 people from county agencies responded to the incident. Agencies assisting with the search included Caldwell County EMS, the Sheriff’s Office, Collettsville Fire/Rescue, Gamewell Fire/Rescue, North Catawba Fire/Rescue, Valmead Fire, Lenoir Fire, Hudson Fire and Lovelady Rescue.

Wading belts save lives!!

10 comments:

Brk Trt said...

A sad story for sure.

Lance Milks said...

I read that story this morning. I think that it is important to note that as sad as it is I hope this open some eyes about wading saftley. There should possibly be a article written about it in something like North Carolina Sportsman. In the report it states that the waders held him down, this is a myth about waders. Once waders fill they become neutral. It is possilbe that his gear added to his struggles. However, the most likely killer is either stiking the rocks below or panicing. We all spend a lot of time researching our gear and all the latest toys but, we should also take some time to educate yourslef about how to be safer on the water.

Lance

Roy Bartle - England said...

The "drowned by waders" myth again! As a 73-year-old who fishes in cold Scottish rivers and manages to fall in most seasons (sometimes having been pushed by floating ice) I have a little experience. As Lance says, once filled with water the waders have neutral bouyancy. It is easy enough to paddle to the shore, or flat along until the current takes you there. The are two problems though. One is that if you wear a wader belt over the waders the legs cannot fill up and float very high - this can turn you over in the water so that you are helpless and face down - SO NO WADER BELTS PLEASE - the second is when you do get to the river bank, the waders will become hugely heavy bevcause of the weight of water in air - so if possible undo the waders right at the waters edge and let the fall as you stand up. I hope this info saves a life out there in the USofA

Tar Heel Fly Fishing said...

Lance-- I agree with you 100%. Learning the dangers of wading is very important. Rivers have a mind of their own. They can be tricky in a lot of situations. Knowing your limits as well as knowing your wading abilities makes a world of a difference.

Roy-- It does make since! I'll tell you the truth, I roll my waders down to waist highs and leave the belt behind. This is probably one of the safest ways in my opinion. If you go under, just roll the waders down a bit and.

Bill Trussell said...

Tyler
This accident has really hit home for me, because I think most of us take for granted safety when we are wading. I have used this story to post some excellent rules I found on the net to follow when one is wading. I have also used your post as a link on my Safety Post for those who want to read about this tragedy. I learned some things after through these rules. I really feel for the family as this man.

Tar Heel Fly Fishing said...

I'm still in a state of shock. I can't begin to imagine how his family feels right now. Accidents like this just reminds us that while we think that pool on the other side of the raging river looks really good, accidents are prone to happen. I sincerely hope this is the last time this happens. I've got a different view on Wilson Creek after this incident.

Wilson Creek is not known to be a deep, raging river (especially in the section he was on). I guess all it takes is one slip and a quick fill of your waders and it's game over. Scary as all get out.

Becky said...

Hi - the man that drowned in this story was my dad. I have been looking on the web for information as I have been obsessed with trying to figure out how and why this happened. I am glad to see all these posting regarding safety.

Tar Heel Fly Fishing said...

Hi Becky,

My heart goes out to you guys. I'm so sorry for your loss. My first reaction when I saw the article was total awestruck. I was dumbfounded. I hope you guys are doing well after this horrible accident.

God bless,

Tyler

Rachel said...

I am his other daughter Rachel, and likewise I've struggling to find some sort of explanation or understanding of why this happened. He was a very intelligent, safe and experienced fisherman...but he was new to the use of waders. A Christmas present he was excited to use for the first time. I hope this can save others lives and make people think a little bit more about their gear and where/how they're fishing. We miss him terribly.

Tar Heel Fly Fishing said...

Rachel,

Waders can be as dangerous as the slippery rocks found in the river. This accident has definitely provided fellow fisherman with a new look at how we wade and fish. Every time you step into a river, you're taking a risk.

I hope you guys are doing okay. It's tough for sure. He died doing what he loved though.

Take care and God Bless,

Tyler

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