At approximately 10:32 am on Friday, July 5, a 911 phone call came into the Page County, IA, PAGECOMM dispatch center of a male drowning at the low-head dam on the Nodaway River on the east side of the Clarinda city limits.
When emergency personnel arrived, Jerrimiah Bryant Smiley, 38, Maryville, was out of the water and CPR was in progress by another adult male, David Medley, 33, Maryville.
According to the investigation by the Page County Sheriff’s Office, the two men had been kayaking southbound on the west Nodaway River north of Clarinda from where they had camped. They were kayaking from the Villisca, IA, area to Maitland. The trip had been planned to span several days.
Smiley and Medley were sitting on top of their kayaks when they came to the low head dam on the east side of Clarinda. Smiley went over the dam first. He was thrown off his kayak. Medley was immediately behind Smiley and he was also thrown off his kayak. Both Smiley and Medley were wearing life preservers. Smiley got caught in the undertow on the south side of the dam. Medley was swept down river.
Medley saw that Smiley was unable to get out of the undertow and got to the bank. He then ran back to the dam, entered the water and attempted to get Smiley out of the undertow. Smiley had gone under several times at this point. Medley was again washed downstream by the current. He then went back to try to get Smiley from the undertow. Smiley then went under and Medley was washed downstream.
Medley located a container with his cell phone floating from the kayak that was used to stow all their supplies and called 911. Smiley surfaced downstream from the dam and Medley got him out of the water and began to perform CPR. It was at this time that emergency personnel arrived. Smiley was transported to Clarinda Regional Health Center where he was pronounced dead.
Page County Sheriff Lyle Palmer noted his department was assisted by the Clarinda Police Department, the Clarinda Fire Department and the Clarinda Ambulance service.