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September 26, 2013

Saranac Lake man drowns in Marcy Brook

NORTH ELBA — Kevin T. Benham of Saranac Lake drowned in Marcy Brook on Tuesday.

His unresponsive form, fully clothed, was spotted by a group of hikers, who called 911 at about 1:39 p.m.

“Rescue breathing and CPR took place very quickly,” State Police Troop B Public Information Officer Jen Fleishman said Wednesday. “One of the hikers ... was a doctor.”

State Police Aviation, based in Ray Brook, flew State Department of Environmental Conservation forest rangers to the location, about a quarter mile north of Marcy Dam.

Also brought to the site was a flight nurse from Adirondack Medical Center.

“The rangers took over for the doctor,” Fleishman said

And two more forest rangers were flown in to help, police said.

ACCIDENTAL

Benham, 36, had not been in the water long when the hikers found him, the trooper said.

Exactly what happened, whether, perhaps, Benham slipped and fell into the water, was not known, she added.

He had no injuries that indicated he had struck his head, she said, and an autopsy performed Wednesday determined he died of freshwater drowning.

“We’re ruling it accidental,” Fleishman said.

HUNTINGTON’S DISEASE

Benham suffered from Huntington’s disease, a hereditary and degenerative brain disorder that affects the body, the mind and the emotions, according to the Huntington’s Disease Society of America.

Huntington’s can target cognitive ability and mobility in its early stages, along with causing depression, mood swings, forgetfulness, clumsiness, involuntary twitching and lack of coordination.

There is no cure, and symptoms increase to the point where the person is unable to care for himself, the site says.

It is generally fatal within a decade.

Benham, whose name was given as Benham/Pillis in the obituary, belonged to Lake Placid Baptist Church.

He had come home to the Adirondacks about a year ago, it said, “with only one desire — to spend time hiking in the High Peaks,” his obituary said.

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