Mt. Lebanon man drowns in family outing at Ohiopyle
A Mt. Lebanon man drowned Saturday in a rafting accident along the Youghiogheny River at Ohiopyle State Park in what was a weekend outing for family and friends, the Fayette County coroner said Monday.
Peter Quigley, 46, of Pine Tree Road, was pinned underwater when he fell out of a raft and his left ankle became caught in a rock in a section of the Youghiogheny near River’s End.
There, the strong current is funneled between two large rocks, said Coroner Dr. Phillip E. Reilly. The accident happened about 1 p.m. and Quigley was pronounced dead at the scene at 4:28 p.m., Reilly said.
Quigley’s raft overturned when it was pushed up a smooth rock, Reilly said. Ohiopyle State Park officials said there were four people in the raft when it flipped. The others reached safety.
Quigley’s son attempted to save his father by holding him above the water, Reilly said.
“It is a hazardous area … and the hazard is magnified (by the current). This is a tragic accident,” Reilly said.
The accident happened about six miles into what is a typically a seven-mile rafting trip down what is known as the Lower Youghiogheny River. Reilly said he was told by park officials that the water level on the river Saturday was at a normal depth.
Family and friends had rented two rafts for the outing at Ohiopyle. They had ropes with them during their trip, the coroner said. The coroner said it was not known if Quigley was wearing a life preserver at the time of the accident.
“This was a well-prepared trip,” Reilly said.
The accident was investigated by Ohiopyle State Park officials and it will be reviewed to see what, if anything, might be done along that section of the river, Reilly said. There is no “easily correctable hazard there,” Reilly said.
The coroner, who is in his seventh term, said that his office sometimes face situations where families of victims are surprised that rafting can be dangerous along that stretch of the Youghiogheny River. They mistake rafting along the Youghiogheny for riding in a raft at an amusement park, Reilly said.
“Some people think it is like Kennywood or Disney World. There are Class III and Class IV rapids,” Reilly said.
Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Joe at 724-836-5252, [email protected] or via Twitter .