Kayaker drowns

March 31, 1998|By CLYDE FORD

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - The body of a Shannondale, W.Va., man was pulled from the Blackwater River on Monday morning, a day after he died in a kayaking accident.

The body of Timothy Christopher "Tim" Gavin, 37, was pulled from the river about two miles south of Blackwater Falls near Davis, W.Va.

Gavin's sister, Sally Jackson, and a brother, John Gavin, were at the river as his friends, fellow kayakers, and fire and rescue volunteers recovered the body.

"(Jackson) said he looked extremely peaceful," said brother Michael Gavin, who spoke to his sister afterward.

The family takes comfort in the knowledge that Tim Gavin was doing what he loved, Michael Gavin said.

Tim Gavin and friend, Mike Moore, 31, of Hagerstown, were in separate kayaks on the Blackwater River at about 4 p.m. when they split up while going around a series of rocks, said Deputy David Gidley of the Tucker County Sheriff's Department.


Moore came out on one side and did not see Gavin at first, Gidley said.

Then Moore saw part of Gavin's kayak sticking out of the water and attempted to rescue his friend, Gidley said.

A swift undercurrent had jammed the kayak under a rock and Moore was unable to free it, Gidley said.

"(Moore) did everything possible," Michael Gavin said.

The deputy said it took more than an hour for Moore to make it to a place where he could call for help.

It took another 90 minutes for help to arrive because of the rugged terrain, Gidley said.

The deputies and firefighters had to hike down the steep cliff to reach the spot in the river. They were unable to recover the body before dark and returned Monday morning, Gidley said.

After the body was recovered, a U.S. Army helicopter flew in and hovered over the canyon floor. The body was pulled up to the helicopter so the rescue team would not have to try to carry the body up the cliff, Gidley said.

Tim Gavin was an experienced kayaker who had more than 150 runs on the Blackwater River, Gidley said.

"It was just a freak accident," Gidley said.

Michael Gavin said his brother had been kayaking for more than 15 years and always took safety precautions, such as wearing a helmet.

The son of William G. and Mary B. Gavin of Happy Retreat, Charles Town, W.Va., Tim Gavin was the father of 5-year-old Eric Gavin.

He worked as a beverage manager at the Cliffside Inn, which his father owns.

He learned to kayak in the motel's swimming pool before moving on to the nearby Shenandoah River, Michael Gavin said.

"Tim had a profound respect for the water," Michael Gavin said. "He always knew how dangerous it was."

The Herald-Mail Articles