Bernt Sakkestad was killed while kayaking level five rapids of the Suarez River near the town of San Gil.
The incident occurred at kilometer nine of the Puente Vásquez-Las Juntas level five rapids, known as ‘the labyrinth’ due to their dangerousness, reported Colombian news source Vanguardia.
Kayak instructor Cesar Diaz, who accompanied Sakkestad, 35, said that he seemed to lose control from a possible lapse in concentration. “This caused his departure from the line of rowing,” Diaz said.
After leaving the line and losing control in a level five rapid, Diaz said that the Norwegian abandoned the boat and tried to swim to safety.
Diaz said that he risked his own life after several attempts to grab Sakkestad, who was caught in a “fierce whirlpool.” He was rushed to hospital, where he died.
“We don’t know if he lost control, or if he wanted to show us that he could take a stronger route, but either way, he was a professional. The cause of death will be established by autopsy. He could have drowned, or been hit by a rock,” the instructor said.
The rapid in which Sakkestad died is classified as extremely difficult by kayaking experts. It is characterized by large volumes of water and outstanding holes, known as hydraulic waves. These streams of water form a very complex rapid. To be able to tackle a category five rapid, kayakers need to be in excellent physical condition, and to examine the rapids thoroughly before attempting them.
The Norwegian consulate Thursday coordinated transportation to repatriate Sakkestad’s body.