Park officials discuss weather impact on recovery efforts for drowning victim in Little River Canyon

Northeast Alabama
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DEKALB COUNTY, Ala. – Little River inside Little River Canyon National Preserve is long and winding.

It is where Chip Sizemore, 41, of Sylvania, took his last breath on Saturday afternoon.

“He came out of his boat and somehow he got trapped underneath a rock, water is very, very powerful and it trapped him,” said Park Superintendent Steve Black.

Black told WHNT the area where Sizemore was kayaking is not for beginners.

“Water below the falls is not professional, but you have to be really good at what you do. It’s class four and five rapids. Very professional type of kayaking and that is why people come here to kayak. It’s so difficult and so challenging,” explained Black.

Sizemore went under around noon on Saturday.

Rescuers immediately responded, but after several hours, they had to stop.

“Weather was deteriorating all day. We had a chance of rain showers which brings the water level up and didn’t want to jeopardize any rescuers,” said Black.

Searchers were able to pin Sizemore’s phone and track his specific location.

The terrain near where rescuers started recovery efforts is rough.

On Sunday, they tied off to a tree atop the cliff, repelled down 60 feet, then walked across a boulder and downed tree-covered valley before they made it to the river.

Black told WHNT that preserve visitors can stay safe by always being aware of their surroundings, keeping an eye on the weather, and knowing their limitations.

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