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Thread: Sue Bennett inquest

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Southern Oregon

    Default Sue Bennett inquest

    I found this update on the tragedy of Sue Bennett. My heart goes out to her family.

    It is not reported by a canoeist and sounds like she was pinned by a kneeling thwart.
    "He found her body wrapped around the canoe’s wooden boards..
    South Cumbria coroner Ian Smith said: “ The Cumberland News

    Full Story

    If there is any benefit from this tragedy it may be a discussion of alternatives to a kneeling thwart. This is a hazard I don't see discussed very often. We all need to take note that kneeling with your legs under a thwart or seat can be deadly in a pinning. Does anyone in her paddling community have a confirmation if this is what may have happened to Sue?
    Dr. Joe
    Electric Hospital
    Coos Bay Or

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Kent, England


    Thanks for opening this debate Dr Joe.

    I don't know the full details of this tragedy but from the report it is just as likely that she could have wrapped around or under a thwart! During my time as a paddler I have been pinned in fast flowing water and trapped in a submerged shopping trolley, I can say from experience that pushing against the flow very quickly exhausts you and leaves you at the mercy of the river. I was not trapped by my knealing thwart on either occassion.

    I have been paddling for over thirty years and using a kneeling thwart for almost as long in all types of water. I have never found it necessary to fit a releasable kneeling thwart and would rather advise people to fit one (and seats) at the appropiate height so that they can easily slide their feet under it.

    I understand that any advance in safety is to be encouraged and when a properly tested and proven system of releasable kneeling thwart is available I would probably fit one but until then I see no reason to remove or adapt the kneeling thwarts in any of my boats.

    My heart goes out to the family and friends of Ms Bennett, especially the brave men who tried to help her.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2007
    South Lakes


    I used to be an agile person but now have trouble kneeling and gettting up from a kneeling position. I normally kneel agin the seat, with feet underneath. It dawned on me, that I would have difficulty wet-exsiting in an emergency and so have not done any ww for a while now and make decsions with due caution.

    Sounds like Ms Bennet was being pushed feet first into bow/stern. Apart from a releasable thwart or saw, I don't see the easy option. And even then, there is no guarantee, that either or both could have released her in time.

    I have just got a kneeling thwart but have yet to fit it. Whether I fit it as a releasable item, is also undecided as yet.
    I have been pinned a few times but always in a kayaks and yes, it's a frightening, during and after. But I have been fortunate to have lived and learned form each experience.

    May the gentleness of morning, greet your silent passage through endless waters...

    May all your winds be gentle. And for ww - May it rain the night before.

  4. #4
    monkey_pork's Avatar
    monkey_pork is offline a wind age, a wolf age - before the world goes headlong Super Moderator
    Join Date
    Dec 2005


    I guess this is something I've never thought about really, as neither of my boats is set up like this ...

    I kneel unsupported, (aside from a foam pad), directly on the hull - when I do fidget to a position where I'm partially supported in the big boat, I perch on a narrow bracing thwart, hung directly form the gunwale, and with such a deep freeboard, getting [even my big] feet caught is unlikely. Granted there is always the pinning issue, but that could apply equally to being pinned against a gunwale.

    I use a saddle in the little boat, and either kneel with my backside above it, or kinda perch on it, again, partially supporting myself.

    Perhaps I'm lucky in that I can still kneel for long periods, but as an alternative to that (and something I experimented with last year), I'd use a ww saddle in my touring boat too, rather than a kneeling thwart.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    ~Kirkintolloch, Glasgow


    Entrapment is a possibility.
    I reported the advice from Claire Knifton at the Scottish Canoe Symposium 2006 elsewhere on the forum.
    I have also posted a picture of a release method for a thwart (idea borrowed from Tenboats).


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