Update: Slovenia declares day of national mourning after canoe tragedy.

Monday, 07 July 2008
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The river dam where the accident took place (Tanjug)
The river dam where the accident took place (Tanjug)
Let's look at the canoe accident that happened over the weekend in Slovenia. I know that I mentioned it earlier a couple of days ago but some new details surrounding the tragedy are finally coming out in the press.

For those who don't know, I am referring to the one where the town of Sevnica's Mayor and another country legislator organized the final descent of the Sava River in a canoe. A hydro electronic dam that was under construction was almost completed and would block off the river to small boats in a number of weeks.

Here is what we know so far...

The river dam where the accident took place (Tanjug)
The river dam where the accident took place (Tanjug)
Let's look at the canoe accident that happened over the weekend in Slovenia. I know that I mentioned it earlier a couple of days ago but some new details surrounding the tragedy are finally coming out in the press.

For those who don't know, I am referring to the one where the town of Sevnica's Mayor and another country legislator organized the final descent of the Sava River in a canoe. A hydro electronic dam that was under construction was almost completed and would block off the river to small boats in a number of weeks.

Here is what we know:

  • There were 14 people in 4 canoes. 2 canoes had 4 people in it and the other 2 had three people.
  • Nobody was wearing life jackets.
  • The accident happened when the canoes went over the threshold of the plant flotation slopes, overturned and broke in the six-metre- deep, violent water.
  • The current running through the shaft - which will feed the plant's turbine when it becomes operational - was strong enough to keep parts of the boats and bodies under water until Sunday

Only one person survived leaving behind 13 grieving families.

This type of thing really makes my blood boil. Here we got a case where people put in public authority organized a trip and lead people through one of the most dangerous moving water situations imaginable. One of the news articles quoted officials who it was "incomprehensible" that anybody would try to paddle that path without strict safety measures.

I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that the builders of the dam didn't know that the trip was being organized or they would have stopped it. Low head dams like this are so dangerous due to the strong currents that they are often called killing or drowning machines by rescue teams.

Since nobody was wearing the a basic piece of safety equipment, a lifejacket I am going to also go out on a limb and guess that there was nobody on shore positioned, ready to help with a throw rope if necessary.

Finally, let's ask the most obvious question. Who puts 4 people in a canoe and sends them down a river and over a dam? Who does that?

Slovenia's government has just declared that Tuesday will be a national day of mourning and all state institutions will fly their flags at half-mast.

Hey trip organizers. Was the final run worth it?

More info: All but one victims of Slovenia boating accident found
David Johnston

David Johnston

David Johnston has been introducing people to the sport of sea kayaking for the past 15 years. He is a senior instructor trainer with Paddle Canada and teaches for several paddling schools in Ontario, Canada. Full Bio.

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