Two kayakers who drowned last Tuesday in the Brandywine Creek in Chester County were wearing life jackets, but only one was properly fastened, authorities said yesterday.
The Rev. Chad Miller of Wilmington had been kayaking with his brother Christopher Miller, of Yonkers, N.Y., when they were unable to navigate a dam with a four-foot drop in East Bradford Township.
Employees from the nearby Brandywine Picnic Park, who called 911 at 1:41 p.m., said they saw two kayaks overturn in the creek's storm-swollen waters and one of the life jackets come off.
Emergency workers pulled Christopher Miller, whose life jacket had been secured, from the water and took him to Chester County Hospital. The 28-year-old, who taught English to foreign students in Tarrytown, N.Y., was pronounced dead a short time later at the hospital.
The body of Chad Miller, 34, a minister at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Wilmington, was missing until Saturday, when people attending a company picnic in Pocopson Township spotted it and called police.
Chester County Coroner Robert Satriale said an autopsy was performed Sunday night and confirmed Chad Miller's identity. The cause of death for both brothers was accidental drowning, he said.
Satriale said Chad Miller's body probably would have surfaced sooner if his jacket had been fastened properly.
"A jacket can't help you if it comes off," he said.
Crews of emergency workers searched several days on foot, by boat, and by air for the body.
Under Pennsylvania law, all personal watercraft operators and passengers must wear life jackets.
The accident occurred in the aftermath of storms that had generated strong undercurrents and rising waters. Commercial kayak operations had suspended rentals last Tuesday because of the weather; however, the Millers used kayaks they had borrowed, police said.