Steve Senior, 65, of Bridgenorth, Ontario passed away at 11:22pm on Monday, March 11 as a result of a canoe accident above The Sinks area in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Senior was visiting the area to attend the “Ain’t Louie Fest” which includes a series of river trips loosely organized by a group of whitewater enthusiasts. Many of the members of the group are trained in swift water rescue and followed a series of safety protocols during their river trip. Serious water-related injuries are not uncommon in the Park and as such, water recreation is not recommended due to numerous hazards and dangers.
“Unfortunately, this tragedy is a reminder that even when participants are experienced, there are inherent dangers when engaged in whitewater recreational activities,” said Chief Ranger Clay Jordan.
Park waters are swift with many unseen obstacles just below the water surface. In addition, river levels can rise rapidly after a heavy rainfall. A localized thunderstorm dumping rain far upstream on the park’s highest peaks can create sudden and unexpected flood conditions at lower elevations. As river levels rise and water velocity increases, the risk of serious injury or drowning becomes greater.