Daniel DeLaVergne, a world-renown paddler and co-owner of Penstock Productions, which produced Lunch Video Magazine (www.lvmvideo.com), a quarterly video magazine beloved by paddlesports enthusiasts, has died as a result of injuries suffered after he was struck by a train near his home base of Asheville, N.C.
Reports state that DeLaVergne, 29, was in the High Ridge Tunnel when he was struck by a Northfolk Southern train traveling at 19 mph at 11:44 a.m. on March 7.
Friends of DeLaVergne told SNEWSÂ® that he had apparently camped out near the tunnel overnight, and was in the tunnel scouting for a commercial he was going to shoot. A McDowell County Sheriff's report stated his sleeping bag and gear were found inside the tunnel -- indicating he was seeking refuge from an overnight rainstorm. The train engineer reportedly said he saw DeLaVergne only briefly as the train rounded the curve and hit him. No one was able to tell us why DeLaVergne was on the tracks and why he did not manage to move out of the way in time.
It is known that he was 200 feet inside the tunnel when he was hit. He suffered severe head trauma and lost one arm from the impact, but was still breathing on his own after the accident and was airlifted to Mission Hospitals. He had no identification on him, but sheriff's deputies apparently discovered his car nearby, and from records in the car were able to reach Immersion Research where a positive identification was made. Friends immediately rushed to the hospital and set up a vigil in the waiting room. Doctors were apparently hopeful, as they tried to control the swelling in his brain from the head injury, but in the evening, DeLaVergne took a turn for the worse and was pronounced dead the morning of March 8. Â
John Weld, owner of Immersion Research, a partner with DeLaVergne at Penstock, and a very close friend, was unavailable for comment as he was with DeLaVergne's family in Asheville.
Needless to say, the SNEWSÂ® phones and email have been filled with outpourings of disbelief and anguish, wondering how this could have happened to such an inspirational industry figure and trying to speculate on something perhaps none of us will ever fully understand -- what DeLaVergne was doing on the tracks and why he didn't move. Â
We have been told that for now, friends will keep Lunch Video Magazine up and running, at least for another two issues to pay proper tribute to a man that died too young -- days after his 29th birthday. After thatâ€¦it is too soon to say.
DeLaVergne apparently had asked his parents that in the event of his death, donations in his memory should be made to the Green River Access Fund. Mail donations to: Green River Access Fund, 765 Crest Rd., Flat Rock, NC 28731.
As of this writing, wheels are turning rapidly to find more ways to honor DeLaVergne's life. To receive updates regarding DeLaVergne memorials and other funds being set up in his honor, email Roger Loughney at firstname.lastname@example.org.