22-year-old dies after Payette kayak accident

June 6, 2013 

A 22-year-old man died in a kayak accident Wednesday evening in Valley County.

Eric Weigel of Asheville, N.C. was kayaking with friends on the North Fork of the Payette River when his vessel flipped. He may have struck his head, and become unconscious, according to the Valley County Sheriff’s Office.

Weigel was trapped upside down underwater for several minutes before his companions could reach him and get him to the shore.

The man was given CPR by his friends and others who had seen the accident before paramedics arrived. Weigel was pronounced dead at the scene.

This is the area’s first kayaking fatality this year, Lieutenant Dan Smith of the Valley County Sheriff’s Office said. Typically, there are only one or two deaths on the river near Cascade per year, he said.

Weigel's kayak was apparently caught in the rapids after it overturned.

“They were just in a really rough section, and he flipped over,” he said.

Smith urged kayakers to remain safe by not attempting to navigate rapids if they are inexperienced or unfamiliar with the river.

But Weigel had done everything right, Smith said. The man was traveling with friends who knew the river, and was wearing a full-face helmet and other kayaking gear.

“It’s just one of those freak accidents,” Smith said.

Weigel and his companions had been on a 21-day whitewater rafting trip, according to the sheriff’s office. Wednesday was to be the last day of rafting before the group planned to return to North Carolina.

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