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Staff file photo by Tim Barber / Chattanooga Times Free Press — Oct 15, 2012 - Andrew Gamble, center, and Danny McSpadden run the rapids in the Bowater Pocket Wilderness Monday amidst early fall colors on North Chickamauga Creek.

Sunday's death of a paddler in Rhea County has been a stark reminder to those in the outdoors community of the perils faced in outdoor recreation, even for the most seasoned adventurers.

Andrew Gamble, 31, died while paddling with friends Sunday afternoon in Laurel-Snow State Natural Area.

The seasoned paddler grew up in the Chattanooga area. He went to Red Bank High School and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. He was known in the local paddling community as a highly-skilled and calculated whitewater kayaker.

"Andrew radiated positivity and taught us to enjoy life to the fullest," fellow paddler and close friend Eliot Berz said. "He had a unique ability to see past the everyday minutiae and focus on the worthwhile parts of life. He made the lives of everyone around him richer, and we were beyond lucky to have his friendship."

Gamble was involved in the local paddling and outdoors scene. He also served as a board member of the North Chickamauga Creek Conservancy.

He was on a point-to-point paddling trip with two friends after recent heavy rain. He was trapped under a log in the current around 2 p.m. while paddling Henderson Creek into Richland Creek.

The friends attempted to rescue him. However, rescue and eventual recovery efforts were difficult due to the fast-moving water and rough terrain, according to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.

Gamble was wearing a life jacket.

The Rhea County Sheriff's Department received a report of a flipped kayak at 2:07 p.m. Sunday, according to TWRA. Rhea County Emergency Management and Tennessee State Parks assisted in recovering Gamble's body.

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