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Coroner: Jacobs Creek drowning victim suffered 'significant head injury'

Joe Napsha
| Wednesday, June 13, 2018, 10:24 p.m.
Dylan Knopsnider in 2017 Facebook photo
Dylan Knopsnider in 2017 Facebook photo

The 21-year-old Connellsville-area man whose body was retrieved from a remote section of Jacobs Creek in South Huntingdon on Sunday suffered a “significant head injury” when he went into the rain-swollen stream June 5, the Fayette County coroner said.

“That may have been reason he could not have helped himself,” Dr. Phillip Reilly said Wednesday of Dylan Knopsnider, who died of asphyxiation from drowning.

Knopsnider's death was ruled an accident, said Reilly, who met with the family of the victim before releasing the preliminary results of the autopsy conducted by forensic pathologist Cyril Wecht.

The injuries to Knopsnider's head are consistent with the details that authorities had been told, Reilly said. The victim was swimming with three other companions shortly before 6:30 p.m. June 5 when he went missing in a section of Jacobs Creek below the Creek Falls area. That popular swimming hole is about two miles downstream of the Chaintown Road bridge that spans the stream and connects Fayette and Westmoreland counties.

“There is nothing to suggest a homicide,” Reilly said.

The results of toxicology tests will not be available for about four weeks, Reilly said.

Knopsnider's body was found Sunday morning in the water about 50 yards downstream from where he went in. Dive teams and firefighters from Fayette, Westmoreland and Washington counties and a cadaver dog from Allegheny County had been searching above and below the water for victim, as well as along the banks of the stream.

Knopsnider's grandmother, Cindy Harshman of Connellsville, said during the search that her grandson was “an excellent swimmer” who was familiar with that section of the creek.

Knopsnider was a Connellsville Area High School graduate who played football from 2012 to 2014.

Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-5252 or

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