In an effort to minimize stress on the structure, bridge piers are designed to throw up very small pillows. A boat can pin on one even in mild current.
On Sept. 3rd the Philadelphia Daily News reported that a professional couple traveling on the Schuylkill River (Class I) with their infant daughter wrapped a canoe on the Route 82 bridge abutment just downstream of Reading, PA. The man, pinned between the boat and the bridge, shouted that his wife and baby had gone under. Bystanders attempted to save the family, and were able to help the man. But his wife, Vidya Anand, 29, was pulled under water and disappeared. Tara Anand, 3, caught her life vest buckle on the canoe and was held under water for too long.In 2004,
Krishnan S. Anand, the husband, reached a $1.4 million settlement with Hidden River Adventures, the canoe rental company which had gone out of business. The lawsuit filed by Anand asserted that the rental company had not warned customers of the danger at the bridge piling, although the the rental company and the state "had specific knowledge of prior incidents" at the site.
A lawsuit continues against the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, the Pennsylvania Fish and Game Commission, the Department of Environmental Protection. Anand's continuing lawsuit requests that the court issue an order that boaters be diverted around the bridge abutments and that warning signs be erected. PennDOT has posted warning signs at the bridge.