Accident Database

Report ID# 570

  • Health Problem
  • Does not Apply
  • Solo Paddling

Accident Description


DESCRIPTION: On August, 1990, Philip Bender, 29, an Allegheny National Forest ranger, was found dead in an overturned kayak at the edge of the Clarion River. Clarion County Coroner Rick Goble listed the probable cause of death as accidental drowning' Authorities said Bender had a history of epilepsy, and it may have contributed to his death.

Bender was still inside his kayak when it was found floating upside, approximately one mile south of the Route 322 bridge in Monroe Township. The kayak, discovered by somebody in a boat on the river, was humping the shoreline. A life jacket had kept both Bender and his kayak afloat.

Clarion firefighters were dispatched to the scene at 7:06 pm they used a boat to bring the kayak and victim to shore. Bender was pronounced dead at the scene at 8:15 PM. Officers said Bender had on a life jacket and helmet, noting there was no sign of "anything out of the ordinary."

SOURCE: Unknown Newspaper

ANALYSIS: There have been several cases of lone kayakers with a history of epilepsy being found dead. A person having a seizure is going to be extremely difficult to rescue. I firmly believe that warnings against paddling alone are especially important for those who are prone to seizures. I suspect the seizure stiffened his muscles and locked him in his boat, making it impossible to bail out before he lost consciousness. (CW)

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