Case of the Accidental Drowning

I was not quite sure as to why I was being called down to investigate an accidental drowning at Sandyside River but fortunately, it was a sunny day and I could not think of a better place to be. Who knows, maybe once I was done, I would get a little fishing in.

When I arrived, there were a few police officers and a small gathering of onlookers. Two of the officers were standing on the public docks talking to what looked like an extremely well tanned gentleman who was wearing a bathing suit. Next to them in the water was a canoe that looked like it had seen better days.

After approaching the trio, I introduced myself to the tanned fellow, who was looking very upset, and asked him what had happened.

“It’s simply terrible Inspector! My friend Jim and I were out canoeing when I suggested that we give the Sunnyside rapids a go,” said the distraught man as he pointed in a southern direction towards the rapids. “Jim was a little concerned as he had never been in a canoe before today but I told him there was no need to worry, I would steer, all he had to do was paddle. Unfortunately, the rapids were a little more difficult than I remembered. I‘m not sure exactly what happened or when he fell out, all that I know is that when I got to the end of the rapids, I turned around and he was not there.”

I looked down at the canoe and observed that there were a couple of lifejackets and one wooden paddle with a large crack within the blade. I was just about to inquire as to how the paddle became damaged when the man stated, “Hell, I didn’t even notice that. My paddle is broken. I guess I must have cracked it on one of the rocks while I was traversing the rapids.”

“Yes, that is possible, “ I said. “But it is more likely that it cracked when you used it to hit Jim!”

Why did Inspector Nose suspect that Jim’s drowning was not an accident?

More Two Minute Mysteries


31 Responses to “Case of the Accidental Drowning”

  1. Miss Mary on March 22nd, 2010 6:00 pm

    Wow! Cool! I love 2-minute mysteries. I used to drive a school bus and give these mysteries to the students to pass the time. They loved them. I ran out.
    Now I teach high school drop-outs and hope to start a fever.

  2. Sugacheri on March 26th, 2010 1:50 am

    where are the answers?

  3. Sugacheri on March 26th, 2010 1:52 am

    oops i got them now. great one :)

  4. Wallace on June 24th, 2010 4:46 pm

    Wow! That one was pretty good!

  5. Mimi on June 26th, 2010 11:59 am


  6. Mimi on June 26th, 2010 12:00 pm

    oh. found it.

  7. Steve on July 1st, 2010 1:58 pm

    Normally, yes, the person in the back is the one to steer – however, while traversing rapids, the person in the FRONT is the one who must steer because THAT’S the person closest to see the rocks coming up out of the frothing water. I know this from personal experience as a Boy Scout attaining the rank of Eagle Scout. Love the stories, but this one smells a little fishy to me….

  8. Shaye on August 16th, 2010 8:56 am

    Where are the answers??

  9. admin on August 19th, 2010 10:50 pm

    Answers are provided at the end of each story via a flash plug-in. You need the Adobe flash player installed in your browser to see them.

    I will try and change this in the near future.


  10. Ducky on October 27th, 2010 3:44 pm

    Where is the solution or answers?! … Quack!

  11. admin on October 28th, 2010 3:27 am

    Answers are provided at the end of each story via a flash plug-in. You need the Adobe flash player installed in your browser to see them.


  12. Xsert Emina on November 4th, 2010 12:38 am

    Haha… i was so good/… it was my first time here and i enjoyed.. so cool…

    hmm.. my mind is still on the question: “What is a canoe…”, ejeje.. so silly of me… well, now i know… ^___^

    hmmm… detectives should know more about terminologies… thanks…

  13. F David on February 22nd, 2011 8:55 pm

    Loved “Accidental Drowning”. You really had to pay attention on this one as the cracked paddle was actually a red herring. Good one, Jane!

  14. Jimmy on April 15th, 2011 9:57 am

    very good

  15. Wayne on April 26th, 2011 1:37 am

    This site is really enjoying…
    I started to love detective stories lately that’s why i’m enjoying…

  16. Hm.. on May 29th, 2011 1:22 pm

    Hm.. That doesn’t make any sense. The person steering would have been in front, to see the rocks and such. So the paddle broken on the rocks is a possible answer. However, there were a couple of life jackets, if Jim was wearing one then his chances of drowning would have been slim, so this means that the “suspect” did not give Jim a life jacket purposely, hence there are two or a couple (Which generally means two) and there should only be one. If there were three, then there would be a witness. I don’t think this story’s conclusion is correct. However, the suspect did kill Jim, just not as stated.

  17. gloria on June 2nd, 2011 11:52 pm

    I thought that was the answer, but I’ve never been caoneing in my life so i wasn’t sure that wheather if to steer you have to be in the font or back. But at least I had the answer^^ I love these two-minute mysterys.^^

  18. WEIRDO on November 16th, 2011 7:56 pm


  19. CanoeEnthusiast on December 2nd, 2011 4:16 am

    For the record, in layman’s terms, the person steering the canoe is at the back. The story is logical.

  20. Sherlock62 on December 21st, 2011 11:49 am

    While it is correct to say that it is appropriate for the front person to steer when negotiating rapids, and for the indicated reasons, if we are to accept the version as offered, the decision to attempt the rapids was AFTER they had entered the canoe, and assumed their positions. Jim was assured that he could take the front position as he was the novice. An admission by the killer that he was in the rear would certainly have cinched it however.
    Well done Jane!

  21. Vicki on March 31st, 2012 9:21 am

    These are PERFECT for our Summer Library Reading Programs! We’ll have a minute mystery display and show case one myster per week for the children to solve and place their answer into the tub. We’ll draw one winner a week from those who have guessed correctly! Prizes are free theater tickets, day passes to the Y, etc.
    Thank you!

  22. admin on March 31st, 2012 11:34 am

    Fantastic! Glad to see them put to use.

  23. Aric Eardley on May 31st, 2012 8:08 pm

    My first reaction was that Jim was telling the truth. It seems like a plausible enough story to me. As an inspector I would be suspicious of the unused life jackets in the back, but it would not be the first time people do not use appropriate safety devices. The cracked paddle is also suspicious but I can see how Jim may crack it on the rocks like he indicated. If I was investigating this scene I would take Jim at his word and begin looking for his friend. Upon finding his friend I would inspect the injuries and draw conclusions based on the findings. Until then I would trust Jim.

  24. Hiram on June 3rd, 2012 5:38 pm

    My First thought was that i know very little about canoeing, but i also know that rapids dont crack or break padels that easey. Once the Detective questionsed him, his response is what set the tone and gave away his actions. The mans first remark that hinted to the detective and me was that he was the driver, and yet he sat in front. that was strike one. Strike two was that his paddle was completely broken and his friends was just cracked.
    On the other hand, he could be telling the truth and just be shakin up about the accident, which can cause the story be be a little shaky

  25. Clay Morgan on January 15th, 2013 2:57 pm

    Was not to sure if you wanted an e-mail for the answer. First off i know nothing about canoeing, so that already stumped me. I thought the survivor was in the front and that he would have had to have turned around to strike his so called friend. What also tipped off that it was murder was the life jackets that were left behind, if your wearing a life jacket your chances of drowning are greatly reduced. The fact that the tanned fellow did not see his buddy fall is suspicious also. All in all the cracked paddle was the ultimate giveaway for me. What i learned from this short story is to look closely at your work and look for more than an obvious answer.

  26. Jesse on April 1st, 2013 12:34 pm

    I loved it❤❤

  27. cupid on October 24th, 2013 11:41 am


  28. JOSHIEEE DDDDD on October 24th, 2013 12:25 pm

    this is really cool but i am stuck in school

  29. Billy Mitchell on April 20th, 2016 5:54 pm

    I figured out what happened to Jim! I’m not going to tell because a I’d ruin it for a lot of people!

  30. mysteries on April 5th, 2017 4:05 pm

    I kind’a knew the answer.

  31. katie on December 7th, 2021 11:10 am

    I don’t know if this page is still active, but I would love to see the answers. Since adobe flash player no longer works or exists, it’s impossible to see the answers so i wonder if this could be updated. Trying to show this to my students for a detective quest they are going to be doing soon but can’t if I don’t know the answer given.

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