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Pennsylvania canoe accident ends in fatality

A fatal canoe accident in Girard Township on July 28 marked the 13th boating fatality in Pennsylvania this year. According to reports from state police, two men, aged 33 and 53, launched the canoe from McKean Township into Elk Creek around 6:10 p.m. The men made it about 10 miles down the creek before they attempted to go into a tunnel located under railroad tracks.

According to police, a tree had fallen near the tube, allowing the water to pass but trapping the canoe. The canoe overturned, and the 33-year-old became trapped between the vessel and the fallen tree. His 53-year-old companion attempted to save the man but failed due to the fast current and high water levels from a thunderstorm earlier in the day. The 53-year-old eventually swam to shore and went for help on foot.

The 33-year-old was pronounced dead at the scene by the Erie County Coroner around 2 a.m. the next morning. The coroner ruled the death an accidental drowning. A spokesman for the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission stated that while fatalities are unusual, similar accidents in which a vessel overturns and the person has to walk back, are not uncommon. He also stated that the tubes -- maintained by CSX -- under the railroad tracks are especially dangerous because the water is being filtered into a smaller area.

Boating accidents and drownings are tragic, but unfortunately, not uncommon. Boaters who have been injured in accidents, or the surviving family of those killed, can sometimes encounter difficulties when dealing with insurance companies, and legal action may be needed for victims to get the compensation they are entitled to.

Source:  Erie Times-News, "Erie man drowns in canoe accident" Tim Hahn, Jul. 30, 2014

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