Man killed in kayaking accident on French Broad River

Rescue crews are responding to the French Broad River where a kayaker has reportedly been pinned. (Photo credit: WLOS Staff)

Authorities say a man was killed after a kayaking accident along the French Broad River on Tuesday morning.

Representatives with the Buncombe County Sheriff's Office identified the kayaker as 56-year-old Delmer Melvin Garratt of Lakeland, Florida.

The incident happened near Ledges River Park on Old Marshall Highway.

The call for assistance reporting an overturned kayak was made via 911 at 10:13 a.m. on Tuesday. Deputies were dispatched to the scene at 10:2.6. am, with the first deputy arriving at 10:31 a.m.

When News 13 arrived, there were numerous rescue squads present. Asheville Fire and Rescue, Reems Creek Fire Department, French Broad Volunteer Fire Department and Weaverville Fire Department all participated in the recovery effort.

Angie Ledford of Buncombe County EMS said a rescue swimmer was sent in, but after spending about 10 minutes in the water, he was unable to get to the kayak, which was about 50 feet offshore. Responders then tried using a rescue boat.

Ledford said the current on the French Broad presented some challenges for rescue workers.

She added that this part of the French Broad River is not known as a dangerous area for kayakers, but they have had to do occasional rescues near Ledges River Park.

Authorities said Garratt was alone and there were no friends or family on scene.

Natalie Bailey with the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office said the investigation into this incident is active and ongoing.

Tuesday's incident is the fifth kayaking death of 2018 that either happened in the mountains or involved someone from the region.

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