A rising 11th-grade camper from Davie, Fla., was killed in an accident on the Ocoee River in eastern Tennessee yesterday as his group was white-water rafting.
Andrew Silvershein was one of seven Ramah Darom campers on the raft when it overturned in the rapids. The other six made it to shore but he was trapped under a rock, under the surface. According to reports, a paddle was used to free him and CPR administered, but he could not be revived.
The Ocoee is a popular white-water rafting spot, and was the site for Olympics competitions in 1996. The camp used Big Frog Expeditions, which had staff on each raft, and all campers wore life preservers and helmets.
The campers from the Gesher age group immediately returned to the Clayton, Ga., camp, where they each had a chance to call home; according to Director Geoffrey Menkowitz, senior staffers called each Gesher family before the campers returned.
Today, each age group was to have age-appropriate discussions about the incident, and social workers and rabbis were to be on hand. Andrew's sister is in the Halutzim (rising 6th-grade) group at the camp.
In an email to camp families, Menkowitz said "We offer our condolences and our heartfelt prayers for the Silvershein family. We have received many email messages and phone calls, especially from our families in Florida offering support. We will provide funeral and shiva information as soon as possible.
"We are grateful for your outpouring of support and love. It is a real source of strength for our entire community as we navigate these difficult days."
Except for the Gesher campers, all age groups will continue with their regular activities.
This is the second drowning on the Ocoee this month. On June 6, a 36-year-old rafting with another company drowned when his raft flipped.