CASCADE, IDAHO — A 22-year-old Asheville man died in a kayaking accident on the Payette River in Idaho, north of Boise.
Boise County officials said Eric Weigel was kayaking the North Fork of the Payette with two friends on Wednesday afternoon when he apparently flipped over and hit his head, losing consciousness.
The sheriff’s department said that Weigel was upside down in his kayak for several minutes before friends could get him to shore. He died at the scene.
Weigel and his friends were on the final day of a 21-day whitewater rafting trip when the accident happened, according to sheriff’s officials.
Wiegel, who recently graduated from Furman University, attended Weaverville Primary and Elementary and North Buncombe Middle before transferring to Asheville School, where he graduated in 2009.
Randy Ashley, head cross country coach at Asheville School, coached Weigel in his senior year. Ashley remembers Weigel as a young man who stood out not just for his athletic skills, but as a human being.
“He was a super friendly, polite, well-respected individual,” Ashley said Thursday. “He was a talented musician and went to Furman for their music program. He was also an excellent swimmer.
“He was intelligent. He studied hard, he did well at all the things he did.”
Ashley also remembered Weigel as being very tall.
“He’d come running in with arms and legs flopping all over, breathing hard. He trained hard. Sometimes students just stand out. He was one of those people who stood out.”
Weigel was the son of Jayne and Larry Weigel, of Weaverville. Larry Weigel is Buncombe County Schools’ Progressive Education Program administrator. The Weigels declined to talk to the press on Thursday.
Eric Weigel also had a brother, David Weigel. According to the BCS website, the family moved to the area in 1994 from California.
The North Fork of the Payette is known for its challenging Class V rapids, which are particularly rough in the spring during snow melt season.