South Lake Tahoe Fire Rescue Team on the scene on the Upper Truckee River. Photo: South Lake Tahoe Fire Rescue/Facebook

Woman Nearly Drowns On River While Wearing SUP Ankle Leash

A Nevada woman almost lost her life yesterday after her ankle leash caught on an object while she was standup paddling down the Upper Truckee River in South Lake Tahoe, California, according to South Tahoe Now.

South Lake Tahoe Police and Fire Rescue received a 911 call at 1:04 and luckily, Sergeant Jason Cheney was less than a minute away from the scene. Cheney grabbed a paddleboard from a bystander and made his way to the 50-year-old victim on the swollen river, which was flowing at around 750 CFS at a temperature of 46 degrees Fahrenheit.

When he tried to get her out of the water, he noticed that her ankle was still attached to the board with her leash. A bystander came to Cheney’s aid and together they were able to free her leg and get her to dry land by 1:10 p.m., where they initiated CPR.

Paramedics arrived shortly thereafter and got her to the local hospital where she was stabilized and put on a ventilator before being sent to a larger hospital in Reno. As of last night she was still alive, Cheney told South Tahoe Now.

This situation illustrates one very dangerous—and easily avoidable—situation while paddling on swift-moving water. Standup paddlers should NEVER wear an ankle leash to attach to their board while paddling on a river or creek.

Even at low flows, your leash can catch on a snag, rock or any other obstacle, sending you into the water. The flow of the river will then pull you downstream and won’t allow you to sit up and release your leash. This creates a situation where a paddler is trapped under the water, needing outside assistance to get free, as illustrated by yesterday’s incident. This can easily lead to a fatality.

This paddler was lucky.

How do you avoid this? Again, NEVER wear an ankle leash on swift-moving water. No leash is better than an ankle leash. If you want to use a leash, make sure you use a quick-release system that attaches to your PFD and allows you to quickly release your leash should it become snagged on an obstacle.


More safety.

A discussion of leashes on the river.