Drowning at Foster Falls


Original Post
Jason Eberhard · · Atlanta, GA · Joined Apr 2015 · Points: 33

http://www.wrcbtv.com/story/35586122/one-person-drowns-at-foster-falls 

Condolences to friends,family, and those involved.  I really don't understand how this could happen there, especially on a Sunday when so many people should have been around.  Any climbers in the area when this happened?

JSH · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2007 · Points: 960

It's helpful to learn that drowning doesn't look like drowning.  "Drowning is almost always a deceptively quiet event. The waving, splashing, and yelling that dramatic conditioning (television) prepares us to look for is rarely seen in real life."

Russ Keane · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Feb 2013 · Points: 140

So many people/tourists hike there.... Likely not a climber.   I heard you can deep water solo this, is that correct?

20 kN · · Hawaii · Joined Feb 2009 · Points: 1,348
JSH wrote:

It's helpful to learn that drowning doesn't look like drowning.  "Drowning is almost always a deceptively quiet event. The waving, splashing, and yelling that dramatic conditioning (television) prepares us to look for is rarely seen in real life."

Indeed. I spend a fair amount of time in the water and have been through a few rescue swimmer and lifeguard trainings, and I can say that very few people understand how drowning works. Some 80% of children that die in the water do so with adult supervision in the immediate area. I'm talking the kid is in the pool and dad is on the BBQ only 15 feet away. Usually when someone is drowning, they are prominently under water or choking on water and unable to yell for help. As such, to the untrained eye it can appear at quick glance that they dont need assistance.

Further, a lot of people fail to understand the potentially serious risks involved with fast moving water and ocean currents. Rip currents probably account for the most deaths in the ocean, largely not because they are truly that dangerous (surfers use them to get out to sea all the time) but because people dont understand what they are and how to escape them. Many parents fail to understand the rather serious risks in strong shorebreak and undertow. A strong undertow can easily sweep a child from foot-deep water to heavy surf in 10 feet of water in under three seconds. It can even sweep a 300-pound man right out to sea if the undertow is strong enough (and often it is).

Even if someone does notice that another person is drowning and attempts to help, it can result in a serious situation for both people. When someone is panicking in the water (called an active victim) and you swim to help them, the first thing they are going to do is jump right on you with an absolute death grip. All they know is they need air and you're a flotation object so they will use you for flotation without a second thought. If you dont know how to get out of a situation like that, it can go south quickly. This is less of an issue with kids because they simply dont have the mass to overpower an adult, but it's common with adult rescues.

As far as how it could have happened "especially on a Sunday when so many people should have been around?" Well, several people tried to assist according to the news report. The main guy sounded like he almost died as well. Like I said, rescuing an active victim in the water is not as easy as most people think. A lot of people think it's as simple as jumping in, swimming over to them, grabbing them by the hand or whatever and then towing them to shore. They will find out quickly it's more complicated than that when the victim jumps on them.

This is a good demonstration: youtube.com/watch?v=rYxrezE...

Most importantly, RIP to the victim and his family. It’s never easy losing someone from the community, regardless of the reason.

Chris Fedorczak · · Portland, OR · Joined Dec 2016 · Points: 0

Very helpful info on drowning. Thanks.

Just out of curiosity, is the waterfall at FF in full force? The only times I've been out there were during droughts when the falls, pool, and river were barely moving. 

I guess we have no idea if something else happened either (heart attack, head trauma, can't swim, etc.).

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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