Nicholas Zawadzki, 36, co-owner and co-founder of whitewater paddleboard company Hydrus Board Tech, died on Monday, Aug. 9, following “a complete freak and unexpected accident” on Idaho’s Main Payette River while supping the stretch.
According to The Idaho Statesman, Zawadzki was paddleboarding through Go Left rapid on the Main Payette a few miles south of Banks around 6:30 p.m. when he got knocked off his board and pulled underwater.
The accident was witnessed by Nicholas’ brother, Jason Zawadzki, who also co-owns Hydrus, co-founding it with Nicholas in 2013. Nicholas was one of the best whitewater paddleboarders around and there was “no real explanation for” the accident, he said. “It was just a complete freak and unexpected accident on a section that Nick had rode standing up on his paddleboard hundreds of times,” he told the Statesman. “Just one-in-a-billion chance bad luck.”
After he disappeared under the water, Nicholas’ helmet and life jacket both surfaced, but his body never appeared; rescuers spent days afterward searching for Nicholas’ body.
“My brother was so loved. Going to miss him,” Jason wrote in a post. “Thank you everyone for such a special tribute. Nick’s favorite boards mean a lot to me, as we shaped every single one together just as we built Hydrus together over the course of 8 years.”
“Nick was paddling and always paddled in a safe and deliberate manner,” added friend Jeffrey Banks in a post on the Whitewater SUP Facebook group. “This was just a freak accident, not caused by anything Nick did. Nick was an incredible paddler. “Paddle like Nick. Play every ripple, love every second, serve others, don’t be ‘too cool’ for anything. Get out and live and love. Life is short…Paddle Hard.”
AW Accident Report
(From Jeffrey Banks via FB’s Whitewater SUP page)
Jason Zawadzki asked me to post here and let the Whitewater SUP community know that his brother, my adopted little brother, and Hydrus Co-Founder ran Go Left rapid on the Main Payette Monday night for the last time. Nicholas Zawadzki went down after the second hit in the rapid and never came up. We are waiting for the water to be lowered to find his body and recover.
Couple of things:
Nick was paddling and always paddled in a safe and deliberate manner. His board and leash released from his PFD and were recovered, He was wearing a life jacket, helmet and all protective gear. His helmet surfaced in the spot he went down about 3 minutes after the incident. He is there in the rapid, even though we haven’t seen him yet. This was just a freak accident, not caused by anything Nick did.
Nick was an incredible paddler. In typical Idaho fashion, he rarely posted pictures, videos or promoted himself. He paddled for the love of the sport. If he would have promoted himself, you all would know that he was one of the best whitewater SUP paddlers on the planet.
Nick has successfully (standing up) run the main and this rapid 100’s of times. 3-4 weeks ago, Nick ran the Staircase section of the South Fork on a SUP that most would consider a Surf SUP, not a downriver board. I was there in a kayak and watched him stick every hole, move and rapid. BTW, low water (1600cfs) is more difficult on SUP than high water where things just become wave trains.
There may be some of you that are waiting on Hard Boards from Hydrus. It is going to take some time for those to get finished and out to you. Jason Zawadzki will figure all that out after we find Nick and place him to rest.
Paddle like Nick. Play every ripple, love every second, serve others, don’t be “too cool” for anything. Get out and live and love. Life is short…Paddle Hard.
‘Freak accident’: Idaho paddleboard company co-founder drowns in Payette River
BY IAN MAX STEVENSON, Idaho Statesman
AUGUST 11, 2021 06:08 PM
A stretch of the South Fork Payette River in 2019, a few miles northeast of where Nicholas Zawadzki’s accident occurred. The co-founder of an Idaho standup paddleboarding manufacturer died in an accident on Monday on the Payette River, according to the Boise County Sheriff’s Office.
At around 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Nicholas Zawadzki, a co-founder of Hydrus Board Tech, an Eagle-based company that specializes in whitewater paddleboards, “went through some rapids and got kicked” off his board not far from Idaho 55 a couple of miles south of Banks, Sheriff Scott Turner told the Idaho Statesman by phone. “We don’t know if he got hung up or just got pulled under,” Turner said.
The 36-year-old’s helmet and life jacket surfaced, but his body has yet to be found. The sheriff said Zawadzki is presumed to have drowned. Zawadzki’s brother, Jason, whom he co-founded Hydrus with in 2013, was also on the river Monday when the accident occurred near the “Go left or you’re fired” rapid, as it’s known. He said that his brother was known as one of the best whitewater paddleboarders around.
“It was just a complete freak and unexpected accident on a section that Nick had rode standing up on his paddleboard hundreds of times,” Jason told the Idaho Statesman by phone. He said there was “no real explanation for it.” “Just one-in-a-billion chance bad luck,” Jason said. “It was his time to go.”
Search teams have been on the river every day this week, Turner said, with crews from Garden Valley Fire, Horseshoe Bend Fire, Mountain West Commercial Diving and local rafting companies assisting in the search. A volunteer with a private helicopter has also been involved in the effort.
According to the sheriff, search teams suspended their efforts on Wednesday afternoon “until we can come up with some other plans and resources to do some different types of searching.” Jason Zawadzki said that he is currently “trying to get the dam operators to lower the water level” for a day to help rescuers locate his brother’s body.
36-year-old man goes missing after kayaking on the Payette River
According to the Boise County Sheriff’s Office, Nicholas Zawadzki was last seen going through rapids before he went underwater and didn’t resurface.
Author: KTVB Staff
August 11, 2021
BANKS, Idaho — On Monday night, a 36-year-old man went missing after he kayaked through rapids on the Payette River. According to the Boise County Sheriff’s Office, Nicholas Zawadzki was last seen going through rapids before he went underwater and didn’t resurface.
Officials said it happened at about 6:30 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 10, near milepost 77 on Highway 55, which is just south of the Banks-Lowman Road intersection in Boise County.
The Bear Valley Rafting Company and Cascade Raft and Kayak searched the Payette River for Zawadzki until dusk on Monday, the Boise County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.
On Tuesday, according to officials, the rafting companies’ search efforts were joined by the Boise County Sheriff’s Office and Garden Valley Fire. The search included the use of a private helicopter.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the 36-year-old man has yet to be found. Officials did not share a description of Zawadzki or state where he was from.