Dueling the Devil

By Brittney Saline

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Thomas Moore loses a fight with a river but gets a rematch in rehab.

(Corrects to state Thomas Moore’s sister is named Melody.)

Thomas Moore couldn’t move. More importantly, he couldn’t breathe.

The rapids he had so deftly navigated just seconds before engulfed him with no warning, wedging his kayak between two boulders and trapping him nearly 4 feet beneath the surface of the San Joaquin River, deep within California’s Eastern Sierra.

The speeding currents pummeled his back like a jackhammer, folding him at the waist toward the bow of his boat. After he shook his hips in a vain attempt to free his boat from the boulders’ vice, he knew he had to abandon his kayak.

He gripped the side of the boat, thrust his feet down and popped his hips, pushing himself out partway. But the raging current immobilized him just below the knee. His legs were forced against the cockpit rim, crushing his knees and causing agonizing pain.

Submerged for more than a minute already, Moore was lightheaded from lack of oxygen. Hearing only the dampened scream of the currents enveloping him, he thought he was going to drown.

“I tried like hell to get free, but it felt hopeless,” he wrote in a blog post after the accident. “It was at this moment that I thought it was over.”

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