LIST OF WATERFALL & SWIMMING HOLE DEATHS



Huntington Gorge deaths sign

The purpose of this page to encourage folks to understand the dangers and risks of visiting waterfalls and swimming holes throughout New England. A certain level of risk is assumed whenever you visit wild and natural places like waterfalls and swimming holes, and so I encourage all travelers to spend time reading everything on this page. You should understand the typical causes of injury and death, and the frequency of incidents at specific waterfalls. One of the ideas here is to learn from the mistakes and misfortunes experienced by others.

Despite the dangers that are often present, I still feel strongly that waterfalls and swimming holes should always remain OPEN to the public. People should be allowed to make their own risk-assessments. If you think about it, hundreds of thousands of people visit waterfalls and swimming holes each year without incident. and closing down such special places in the spirit of ultra-conservatism would be a true shame. With all natural areas, public benefit should always be weighed against public risk. It is obviously a tragedy whenever a fatality occurs at a waterfall or swimming hole, but we must always remember the pure joy and sense of adventure that these places will safely bring to thousands of others in the future.

I am a supporter of banning alcohol (and enforcing that rule) at the most popular swimming hole sites, especially those that offer cliff-jumping. Cliff-jumping and alcohol just don't mix well, for obvious reasons. Alcohol also tends to attract a specific crowd, and that can lead to problems-not only with injuries and accidents, but also with trash and broken glass being left behind.

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LIST OF WATERFALL/SWIMMING HOLE DEATHS



Here is a list of all known waterfall and swimming hole-related fatalities in New England. If you know of any other such deaths, please send me an email at gparsons66@hotmail.com so that I can add them to this list. My goal is to try to keep this list as complete and up-to-date as possible.

WATERFALL
STATE YEAR VICTIM AGE NOTES
Arethusa Falls NH ???? ???? ???? at least one death has occured here; no other information available
Bartlett Falls VT 2013 Steven Orvis 26  
Bolton Potholes VT 2011 Bentley Siefer 12  
Bolton Potholes VT ???? ???? ???? "five deaths at Bolton Potholes since 1985"
Bolton Potholes VT ???? ???? ???? "five deaths at Bolton Potholes since 1985"
Bolton Potholes VT ???? ???? ???? "five deaths at Bolton Potholes since 1985"
Bolton Potholes VT ???? ???? ???? "five deaths at Bolton Potholes since 1985"
Champney Falls NH 2015 Steven Marshall 29 08/10/2015
Clarendon Gorge-Upper Falls VT ???? ???? ???? there are rumors of at least 1 death here; no other info available
Doane's Falls MA 1991 Brian Lanou 18  
Doane's Falls MA 1988 Dean Bastarache 19 19-year old male from Gardner, Massachusetts
Doane's Falls MA 1989 ???? 16 male victim was from Athol, Massachusetts
Doane's Falls MA 2002 ???? 44 male victim was from Orange, Massachusetts
Dog's Head Falls VT ???? ???? ???? there are rumors of at least 1 death here; no other info available
Enders Falls CT 2013 Amanda Monington 15 06/01/2013
Franconia Falls NH 2015 Julia Hassan 17 08/11/2015
Hamilton Falls VT 2016 Tyler Rosenberg 17 08/25/2016
Hamilton Falls VT ???? ???? ???? "twelve deaths on Cobb Brook since 1985"
Hamilton Falls VT ???? ???? ???? "twelve deaths on Cobb Brook since 1985"
Hamilton Falls VT ???? ???? ???? "twelve deaths on Cobb Brook since 1985"
Hamilton Falls VT ???? ???? ???? "twelve deaths on Cobb Brook since 1985"
Hamilton Falls VT ???? ???? ???? "twelve deaths on Cobb Brook since 1985"
Hamilton Falls VT ???? ???? ???? "twelve deaths on Cobb Brook since 1985"
Hamilton Falls VT ???? ???? ???? "twelve deaths on Cobb Brook since 1985"
Hamilton Falls VT ???? ???? ???? "twelve deaths on Cobb Brook since 1985"
Hamilton Falls VT ???? ???? ???? "twelve deaths on Cobb Brook since 1985"
Hamilton Falls VT ???? ???? ???? "twelve deaths on Cobb Brook since 1985"
Hamilton Falls VT ???? ???? ???? "twelve deaths on Cobb Brook since 1985"
Huntington Gorge VT 1950 Marjorie ???? 21  
Huntington Gorge VT 1961 William ???? 16  
Huntington Gorge VT 1969 Brian ???? 20  
Huntington Gorge VT 1969 Robert ???? 19  
Huntington Gorge VT 1969 Daniel ???? 19  
Huntington Gorge VT 1971 Robert ???? 21  
Huntington Gorge VT 1972 Robert ???? 25  
Huntington Gorge VT 1973 Dennis ???? 19  
Huntington Gorge VT 1975 Rosemary ???? 22  
Huntington Gorge VT 1976 Michael ???? 22  
Huntington Gorge VT 1976 Carol ???? 21  
Huntington Gorge VT 1976 Charles ???? 24  
Huntington Gorge VT 1985 Carathray ???? 18  
Huntington Gorge VT 1985 Scott ???? 18  
Huntington Gorge VT 1992 Kevin ???? 21  
Huntington Gorge VT 1992 Gary ???? 35  
Huntington Gorge VT 1994 Cathy ???? 36  
Huntington Gorge VT 1994 Peter ???? 32  
Huntington Gorge VT 2015 Elanie Santor 22 07/05/2015
Huntington Gorge VT ???? ???? ???? "26 deaths as of July 2015"
Huntington Gorge VT ???? ???? ???? "26 deaths as of July 2015"
Huntington Gorge VT ???? ???? ???? "26 deaths as of July 2015"
Huntington Gorge VT ???? ???? ???? "26 deaths as of July 2015"
Huntington Gorge VT ???? ???? ???? "26 deaths as of July 2015"
Huntington Gorge VT ???? ???? ???? "26 deaths as of July 2015"
Huntington Gorge VT ???? ???? ???? "26 deaths as of July 2015"
Lower Falls NH 2010 Dale Morris 55 10/16/2010; victim was from Soldotna, Alaska
Lower Falls NH 2010 Camille Morris 58 10/16/2010; victim was from Soldotna, Alaska
Lower Falls NH 2013 Siphal Hak 60 07/02/2013; victim was from Lowell, MA
Lower Falls NH 2011 Hardik Shah 31 10/01/2011
Moss Glen Falls-Granville VT 1974 Paul ???? 22  
Moss Glen Falls-Granville VT 1975 Lisa ???? 14  
Moss Glen Falls-Granville VT ???? ???? ???? there are rumors of a 3rd death here; no other information available
Moss Glen Falls-Stowe VT ???? ???? ???? there are rumors of 2 deaths here; no other information available
Moss Glen Falls-Stowe VT ???? ???? ???? there are rumors of 2 deaths here; no other information available
Moxie Falls ME 2005 Garth Coon 39 07/29/2005; victim fall over the 90-foot tall falls
Profile Falls NH 2016 Thai M. Chinh 39 08/29/2016
Race Brook Falls MA 2013 Benjamin Lewis 28  
Silver Cascade NH 1996 ???? ????  
Twin Falls VT 2003 Davis Hemingway 16  
Twin Falls VT ???? ???? ???? "22 deaths since the 1940s"
Twin Falls VT ???? ???? ???? "22 deaths since the 1940s"
Twin Falls VT ???? ???? ???? "22 deaths since the 1940s"
Twin Falls VT ???? ???? ???? "22 deaths since the 1940s"
Twin Falls VT ???? ???? ???? "22 deaths since the 1940s"
Twin Falls VT ???? ???? ???? "22 deaths since the 1940s"
Twin Falls VT ???? ???? ???? "22 deaths since the 1940s"
Twin Falls VT ???? ???? ???? "22 deaths since the 1940s"
Twin Falls VT ???? ???? ???? "22 deaths since the 1940s"
Twin Falls VT ???? ???? ???? "22 deaths since the 1940s"
Twin Falls VT ???? ???? ???? "22 deaths since the 1940s"
Twin Falls VT ???? ???? ???? "22 deaths since the 1940s"
Twin Falls VT ???? ???? ???? "22 deaths since the 1940s"
Twin Falls VT ???? ???? ???? "22 deaths since the 1940s"
Twin Falls VT ???? ???? ???? "22 deaths since the 1940s"
Twin Falls VT ???? ???? ???? "22 deaths since the 1940s"
Twin Falls VT ???? ???? ???? "22 deaths since the 1940s"
Twin Falls VT ???? ???? ???? "22 deaths since the 1940s"
Twin Falls VT ???? ???? ???? "22 deaths since the 1940s"
Twin Falls VT ???? ???? ???? "22 deaths since the 1940s"
Twin Falls VT ???? ???? ???? "22 deaths since the 1940s"
Upper Ammonoosuc Falls NH 2014 William Glad 37 08/01/2014
Upper Ammonoosuc Falls NH ???? ???? ???? there are rumors of many deaths here; no other info available
Upper Purgatory Falls NH 2015 Dorie Goldman 50 01/25/2015; victim slipped on ice and fall into the falls
Wahconah Falls MA 2008 James Hoffma 34 victim was from Pittsfield, MA
Wahconah Falls MA ???? Brian Keyes ????  

TOP 5 MOST DANGEROUS WATERFALLS IN NEW ENGLAND



Here are the five most dangerous waterfalls in New England. The danger potential at these five waterfalls is very high, especially during moderate or high water level conditions.
  • HUNTINGTON GORGE, VT - at least 26 DEATHS
  • TWIN FALLS, VT - at least 22 DEATHS; most deaths are related to swimming or falling into its middle pool
  • HAMILTON FALLS, VT - at least 12 DEATHS; most deaths are related to swimming or falling into its upper pool
  • UPPER AMMONOOSUC FALLS, NH - unknown # of DEATHS, but it is likely to be a dozen or more; most deaths occur in the pothole that the falls dump directly into
  • BOLTON POTHOLES, VT - at least 5 DEATHS
I personally do not feel comfortable swimming in any of the following areas, and I strongly encourage you to adopt the same attitude towards these high-risk places:
  • BOLTON POTHOLES - I will never jump into, or swim in, its upper pool; the lower and middle pools can also be dangerous in high-water conditions
  • DOANE'S FALLS - I will never jump into, or swim in, any pool here; this place is just far too dangerous; it is also illegal to swim here
  • HAMILTON FALLS - I will never jump into, or swim in, the pool above the top of the falls
  • HUNTINGTON GORGE- I will never jump into, or swim in, any pool here; this whole place is just far too dangerous
  • MOXIE FALLS - I will never jump into, or swim in, any pools above the falls
  • TWIN FALLS - I will never jump into, or swim in, any pool here; this whole place is just far too dangerous
  • UPPER AMMONOOSUC FALLS - I will never swim in the pool/pothole directly below the waterfall
Any waterfall or swimming hole in New England can be dangerous. Just because I haven't listed them here doesn't mean that they are safe. The above list merely represents the MOST dangerous ones.

MOST COMMON CAUSES OF DEATH



There are several ways people run into trouble at waterfalls and swimming holes. You should be aware of all of these to ensure your own safety:
  • Diving into shallow water
  • Cliff-jumping or rope-swinging into shallow water
  • Slipping on wet rocks or wet ledge while preparing to do a cliff-jump
  • Slipping on ice and falling into a waterfall, pool or into the stream itself
  • Cliff-jumping and hitting ledges or rocks on the way down
  • Swimming or wading in a pool above a waterfall and then getting pushed downstream over the waterfall by strong currents
  • Slipping on the edge of a waterfall or stream
  • Entering a stream where the currents are too strong, and then getting swept downstream
  • Getting pushed by currents down to the bottom of a pool, where even strong swimmers can not get themselves out
  • Getting pushed up against debris within a pool or stream (i.e. a cluster of fallen trees)
  • Getting pushed under or against an overhanging lip or ledge within a pool
  • Jumping in to try to save another person who is drowning
Generally speaking, it is unwise to swim in any pool above a waterfall. Many people have died by slipping while getting into or out of such pools. Cliff-jumping and rope-swinging are also high-risk propositions.

Pets are also at risk at waterfalls and swimming holes. I always recommend having pets on leash at all times at these places. Several pets have died in New England waterfalls and swimming holes over the years.

There is also a risk of slipping and falling on your hike to a waterfall or swimming hole. Always watch your footing, and consider avoiding hiking after the leaves drop in the fall (fallen leaves can be extraordinarly slippery and they can mask other dangers on the ground).

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Waterfalls, swimming holes, and hiking can be extremely dangerous. Hundreds of people have been injured or killed in the waterfalls and swimming holes of New England over the years. Never swim in strong water currents. Don't jump into a swimming hole without scouting it first. Do not climb up or along the side of waterfalls. Be weary of slippery rocks. Never swim in pools above waterfalls. Use of this website and all of its information is at your own risk! Newenglandwaterfalls.com and the authors of the New England Waterfalls guidebook will not be held liable for your actions. Be safe out there - and always use common sense!