West Virginia’s Whitewater Season Off to Deadly Start

May 30, 2008

Three deaths in the span of a week may mean West Virginia’s whitewater rafting industry is headed toward its deadliest season in years.

Two of this month’s deaths occurred on the Cheat River and the third on the New River.

Stephanie Albertini is the Division of Natural Resources’ representative on the state’s Whitewater Commission. With five months left in the season, Albertini says 2008 could exceed 1992’s death toll, which also saw three people killed on commercial trips.

According to DNR records, there have been at least 23 commercial and noncommercial whitewater deaths in the past decade.

Dave Arnold with Class VI River Runners says the sport is dangerous, but companies have taken pains to make shooting the rapids a safe adventure.

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