Daniel DeLaVergne, 29; Whitewater Kayaker on Record-Setting Team

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Daniel DeLaVergne, 29, a noted whitewater kayaker who was part of a four-man team that set a record for paddling one of North America’s most dangerous rivers, died Wednesday near Ridgecrest, N.C., after being hit by a train.

Friends said they believed DeLaVergne was camping in the High Ridge Tunnel to avoid bad weather Tuesday when he was struck by a Norfolk Southern train heading to Asheville. DeLaVergne lost an arm in the accident and was airlifted to a nearby hospital, where he died Wednesday.

National Geographic Adventure magazine named DeLaVergne a 2005 adventurer of the year for paddling the 50-mile run of the Stikine River in British Columbia with three other kayakers.

The magazine said it normally takes three days to paddle the Stikine, but DeLaVergne and his friends did it in nine hours and 50 minutes.