Man bails out before kayak goes over Avery Dam

LACONIA — Three men who ventured onto the Winnipesaukee River behind City Hall yesterday around 3 p.m. are safe after nearly taking a plunge over Avery Dam.

Witnesses said the three — one in an aluminum boat and two in a red kayak –— were in the river when the man in the aluminum boat got swept downriver and grabbed on to the line that holds the buoys marking about 30 feet up from the dam.

They said the men in kayak went to help them and fell out of it. The people on shore said they knew at least two of the guys.

"I think one the guys said 'screw it' and swam to shore," said a witness who pointed to an orange truck saying he thought the man was in it.

The other two, who were in the aluminum boat managed to get to the shore behind the old F.W. Webb Building, where they were assisted to dry ground by city police.

Police said the two men in the aluminum boat had been drinking and one of them fell a couple of times before officers could get him out of the boat.

Deputy Chief Deb Pendergast said the kayak went over the dam and the dam operator told firefighters it was likely lodged up against the bottom of the dam.

According to an online N.H. boating safety guild, water flowing over a low-head dam forms a hole or hydraulic at the base which can trap objects washing over it. Backwash or recirculating current is formed below the dam trapping what ever object (or person) goes over it.

"With all the rain, the river is very swollen and the current is much faster," said Pendergast as a general caution to people who want to go to area rivers to cool down, fish, or to boat this year.

She said one man had some scrapes and bruises but declined all treatment. She said police brought him to his nearby home and told him to stay there.

CAPTION – (drunks in the river) Police and Firefighters assist a local man up the Winnipesaukee River bank yesterday afternoon behind the F.W. Webb Building. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Gail Ober)