Experts share safety tips following Gauley drowning
FAYETTE COUNTY, W.Va. (WVVA) - A recent drowning on the Gauley is prompting the National Park Service (NPS) and other experts to share some water safety tips.
In June of 2022, WVVA spoke with Bryant Baker, a raft guide for Ace Adventure Resort in Oak Hill. Baker gave an inside look into the responsibilities placed on river guides.
“...it’s just being- we call it heads of a swivel, so just always having eyes on each other because things can happen really fast.”
Baker says being cognizant of your surroundings is paramount when it comes to rafting.
“We do tend to- scheduling wise- make sure the guides we have scheduled for that day are very comfortable with those water levels,” he shared.”
But even with these proactive safety protocols in place, there is always a risk when on the water. An accident this week served as a reminder of this reality. According to the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve, a 46-year-old drowned while rafting the Gauley on Monday, October 3. This individual was an active Air Force member from Ohio.
WVVA reached out to Ace Aventure, who did release this statement following the incident:
In the aftermath of the drowning, Dave Bieri, District Supervisor for the NPS, reminds those rafting in the future to remain vigilant in the water.
“The biggest bit of safety tip I would give anybody planning to go on the Gauley would be go with one of the professional guiding companies or go with one of the outfitters,” he stated. “They’ve got the professional guides with them that know how to raft that river. It’s definitely a technical river, which you need to have some expertise to know how to navigate.”
Bieri also advises anyone near or in the water to always be wearing their life vest.
WVVA reached out to the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources (DNR), who is spearheading the investigation into the drowning but has yet to receive a response.
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