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Coroner: Neck injury a factor in lake death

by The Indiana Gazette on August 26, 2013 11:00 AM

PENN RUN — A man who drowned in Yellow Creek Lake on Saturday morning apparently dislocated his neck diving into the water, according to preliminary autopsy results.

The Indiana County Coroner’s Office said the autopsy, conducted Sunday at Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center in Johnstown, showed that Benjamin E. Hill, 55, of Penn Run, had a dislocation at the top two vertebrae in his spine and had water in his lungs, leading investigators to believe the injury prevented Hill from resurfacing and caused him to drown.

Hill died after jumping into the lake at the southern boat launch off Route 259 around 8:45 a.m. Investigators said Hill jumped in to retrieve a boat that was drifting away with his uncle inside.

Hill’s uncle told investigators that his nephew “just disappeared” after going underwater.

Firefighters from Brush Valley, Cherryhill and Black Lick were summoned.

A water rescue team from Blairsville also responded.

Rescue divers recovered Hill’s body around 10:30 a.m., about 50 feet from the dock. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

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