Accident Database

Report ID# 8729

  • Caught in Low Head Dam Hydraulic
  • Does not Apply
  • Inexperience

Accident Description

Dashields Dam has THE WORST hydraulic I have ever seen!

Kayak Accident On Ohio River Leaves Woman Dead, One Missing

By Jennifer Ong, Morning News USA

Published on May 22, 2017

Officials have found the body of one female victim after a tragic kayaking accident on the Ohio River on Saturday. Another victim is currently missing.

“They actually located a body that they were unable to get, later on a private craft got a body out of the water, and they were able to get that one to shore, we have one body unaccounted for at this time,” Leetsdale Volunteer Fire Chief Marty Davis explained following the incident.

Crews first responded to a call in the area near Dashhields Lock and Dam in Leetsdale. The call came in just before 7 PM. People aboard a private fishing vessel noticed that there was a body floating in the water. The victim was later identified as Brittany Evans, a 25-year-old woman from West View.

According to a report from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Evans and the other victim reportedly went over the edge of the Dashields Lock and Dam. The other victim is also believed to be a female.

The search for the second victim proved to be challenging and the Pittsburg River Rescue said they would utilize infrared technology in order to detect the body in the water. Moreover, authorities also called in a drone to help assist the search in the area. “We can only go up so far with the boats, so rather than trying to push the boats to the max, it’s easier to just put me in a boat, put the drone up in the air, and literally I’m right above the dam,” drone operator Gary Bane told CBS Pittsburgh. Rescue crews called off the search for the second kayaker at around 9:15 PM on Saturday.

The next day, rescue crews resumed the search at 9 AM. however, they were forced to call it off at around 3 PM due to heavy rains. Officials are now saying that the search is now strictly a recovery effort.

Victim “loved life, loved people.”

Meanwhile, Evans’ father, Jack Evans, said he didn’t believe his daughter owned a kayak. He also said he has no idea how often his daughter took kayaking trips. “I think she’d been before and it was just something different to do yesterday. I don’t know. I haven’t…I can’t talk to her, I can’t ask her,” he said.

Mr. Evans described his daughter as someone who “loved life, loved people.”


Family Of Missing Kayaker Seeking Closure As Search Continues

Helene Brandy (Photo Courtesy of Brandy Family)

“Unfortunately, the last photo that she sent, was just a few hundred feet from the dam. She had no clue it was there, obviously from the photo,” said Sam Gaetano, a relative of Brandy.

The body of 25-year-old Brittany Evans was found near the Dashield Lock and Dam shortly after the kayak went over, but there was no sign of Brandy, who family members say lived her life to the fullest. The family brought her high school senior picture to the river.

“Helene cheerleaded at my son’s high football games, they both went to Pitt together, she cheerleaded for Pitt,“ said Gaetano. “She was a great gymnast, great athlete, loved a lot of crafts and just a vibrant young lady at the beginning of a wonderful life.”

Allegheny County is offering resources to aid in the search, including a drone and a boat equipped with sonar equipment. The plan for Tuesday is to search the 12 miles between two dams.

Meanwhile, Brandy’s family is asking for prayers.

“Her parents need closure, they need prayer and support in that,” said Gaetano.


Helene Brandy, left, and Brittany Evans, both 25, snapped this photo the day they were were swept over the Dashields Dam on the Ohio River. Behind them is the Sewickley Bridge.

Coroner identifies body pulled from Ohio River as missing kayaker

A body pulled from the Ohio River on Sunday is that of Helene Brandy, a 25-year-old kayaker who had been missing since May 21 after she and another woman were swept over a dam. Beaver County Coroner David J. Gabauer made the announcement Tuesday evening, saying he used partial dental records to identify the body, as well as circumstances and demographics.

Ms. Brandy was kayaking with Brittany Evans, also 25, when they were swept over the Dashields Locks and Dam in Edgeworth on May 21. Ms. Evans’ body was found later that day, but Ms. Brandy was missing for nine days. What turned out to be her body was found downstream in the Ohio River near Aliquippa on Sunday.

We're hoping it's her': Family believes body pulled from Ohio River is missing kayaker

During the search for her body, Ms. Brandy’s family members spent days waiting along the river, and at one point family members rented their own boat and joined the effort.

After the women were swept over the dam, Ms. Brandy’s family was outspoken in their belief that the signs posted upstream to warn boaters of the dam’s danger were inadequate. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Friday announced a plan to add seven more warning buoys to the area.

Ken Brandy, Ms. Brandy’s uncle, remembers Ms. Brandy as a spunky cheerleader and gymnast with a zest for life. He said last week that the additional warning buoys would be a welcome addition.

“If any good can come from this … we just want to prevent more loss of life,” he said.

Shelly Bradbury: or 412-263-1999.

First Published May 30, 2017, 5:49pm


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