Accident Database

Report ID# 50352

  • PFD Not Worn or Present
  • Heart Attack / Heart Failure
  • Solo Paddling

Accident Description

Body pulled from Spokane River identified, death ruled an accident

By:  Emily Oliver

Posted: Jul 02, 2019 -  Copyright 2019 All rights reserved. 

Man's body pulled from Spokane River near TJ Meenach Bridge

SPOKANE, Wash. - A man's body was pulled from the Spokane River near the TJ Meenach Bridge on Tuesday, where emergency personnel were responding to two separate water rescues. He has been identified as 56-year-old Benjamin Cullipher.

According to a post on Twitter, the Spokane Fire Department was called to W Riverside Ave and S A Street just after 4 p.m. on Tuesday.

The fire department said a family called 911 to report a man had been floating the river with a group of people when people saw a raft coming up the river with no person on it. Not long after, a second caller reported another person further down the river by W TJ Meenach Dr and Fort George Wright Dr.

The reports had crews splitting up for two separate water rescues. The second rescue was called off a while later. After an extensive search by SFD, Valley Fire, State Parks, and the Spokane Police Department, the man's body was found in shallow water near the river bank at Petit Drive at TJ Meenach Bridge. According to the Spokane County medical examiner, the death was ruled an accidental drowning. His body was found without a life jacket.

The Spokane County Boating Safety Ordinance says that life jackets are required for all people to wear, regardless of age, while on moving water. Failure to do so can result in a $76 ticket. 

Man who drowned in Spokane River identified

UPDATED: Wed., July 3, 2019

By Will Campbell, Spokane Spokesman Review

(509) 459-5513

The Spokane County Medical Examiner identified the man who drowned in the Spokane River on Wednesday while inner tubing as Benjamin J. Cullipher. He was 56. A contributing factor in Cullipher’s drowning was a heart condition known as dilated cardiomyopathy, a decreased ability to pump blood because of a weakened heart chamber. Cullipher’s drowning was listed as an accident on the medical examiner’s website.

At about 4:30 p.m., rescue crews found Cullipher’s body in an eddy on the south side of the T.J. Meenach Bridge after his group of inner tubers called 911 to report he was lost from the group and separated from his tube. Cullipher was not wearing a life jacket, according to Spokane Fire Department Chief Brian Schaeffer.

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