2008 Whitewater Boating Fatalities

The number of whitewater accidents declined in the second half of 2008. Between July and December American Whitewater received reports of 6 kayak, 5 canoe, and 9 rafting fatalities. The number of whitewater kayaking deaths this year, 16, is somewhat higher than in recent years. This is probably due to the increased presence of recreational kayaks on whitewater. This year's 8 canoeing deaths are about average, but the total of 29 rafting fatalities is the second highest number on record. The rafting number is always pushed upwards during Western big-water years. There were 12 commercial deaths, which seems high. Strainers, dams, and high water flushes continued to be major issues for both experienced and inexperienced paddlers.

-Charlie Walbridge



Summary of U.S. Boating Fatalities – 1994 – 2008
As Reported to American Whitewater

 

Boat Type 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008
Canoe 5 4 2 5 7 5 11 9 8 15 4 6 8 8 8
Kayak 8 7 13 20 21 15 18 20 12 20 16 10 14 7 16
Guided Raft 5 10 4 2 3 3 5 1 2 3 6 8 11 9 11
Private Raft 6 16 15 4 18 11 12 13 6 11 6 12 29 11 16
Inflatable K-1 2 1 2 2 1 1 2 0 1 1 2
Other 3 1 3 4 1 2 1 8 7 3 1 1 0
Totals 26 38 37 32 51 38 49 37 30 58 42 38 51 36 53

NB: Although American Whitewater does not receive reports of all whitewater accidents in the USA, we think our list of whitewater kayak accidents is pretty complete. This table includes some fatalities of Americans paddling abroad.