Family remembers man killed in canoeing accident - 14 News, WFIE, Evansville, Henderson, Owensboro

Family remembers man killed in canoeing accident

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BOONVILLE, IN (WFIE) -

An autopsy is underway on the Warrick County man who died Wednesday after a canoeing accident.

69-year-old Bill Chappell of Boonville was on the Blue River with his wife Wednesday when they hit a partially submerged tree and flipped over and he got trapped underneath it.

Bill's family describe him as an outdoors man, a good Christian and a family man that was always willing to lend a hand, but yesterday it was the quick thinking from a grandson and his girlfriend that gave him a fighting chance.

"I told Jacob, their boat had flipped, he jumped out of the boat, left his kayak and starting swimming towards him, and once he got there bill was lodged underneath the tree," Kyla Masterson.

Bill's grandson Thomas and his girlfriend Kyla were kayaking about a quarter-mile behind Bill and his wife when they saw the overturned canoe.

The family says Bill didn't know how to swim but was wearing a life vest.

"I picked the canoe up, freed him, and pulled him out. But then at the time I got him out, the current was so strong, I could barely hold him and me up because I almost got sucked underneath there too," says Thomas Moss.

Kyla says she gave Bill CPR several times and once they got to the shore, Bill began to breathe and spit up water. While they waited for emergency crews, Thomas returned to the river to help a  large group of Jasper High School students also in canoes, who were headed for the very same tree.

"Some of the students' boats were getting sucked underneath, and they were going actually underneath and they made it up on the other side," says Thomas.

Bill was taken by helicopter to the University of Louisville Hospital where he later died. The family gathered on Thursday to remember their last memories together like the tractor ride with grandchildren on Father's Day.

Bill's son says his dad died doing something he loved with the ones he loved.

"Loved to fish, loved to be outdoors, loved to spend time with his family," says Steve.

Bill's grandkids remember some of his smallest acts of kindness.

"We could call and say, I need lunch money, I forgot to give them lunch money and he would drop everything he was doing and run up to the school to take her some money," says Tracey

"He would always be there for anyone anytime they needed him, he was always there," says Emily.

14 News spoke to the Cave County Canoe Company, and they tell us that the tree that caused the accident should be removed on Thursday night.

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