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A 1946 Report on Drownings

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Report of Study and Findings of Thirty-Six Drownings in Harvey’s Lake and Susquehanna River
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A Century of Drownings at Harvey's Lake 1863 - 1963
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Dr. Benjamin S. Davis (1893-1948) was born in Plymouth, PA.  He attended Plymouth High School, Pennsylvania State College, and received his medical degree from Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia, in 1917. 

He practiced medicine in Plymouth and was an active and generous contributor in his home town as Plymouth’s health officer and medical advisor to the Plymouth High School football team.  He died in October 1948.

"Report of Study and Findings of Thirty-Six Drownings in Harvey’s Lake and Susquehanna River"

By Benjamin S. Davis, M.D.

From my experiences with drowning cases at Harvey's Lake and in the Susquehanna River in the vicinity of Plymouth, Pennsylvania, certain conclusions can be deducted that will be helpful to others. These two bodies of water, namely - Harvey's Lake covers an area of 651 acres and is fed by underground springs with depths ranging up to 126 feet* - the [Susquehanna River] has a surface flow of 4 to 10 miles per hour and faster in times of a flood. The depth of the river varies from shore-line to 15 feet a places. During flood season it may reach a depth of 18 to 32 feet with a surface flow of as much as 15 miles an hour.

I have attended thirty-six drowning and five resuscitations in the past twenty-five years. Records compiled from the Wilkes-Barre Record Almanacs and newspaper reports show that in Luzerne County since the year 1885 to and including 1945 there has been 657 deaths due to drowning in the river and various lakes. Harvey's Lake accounts for 48 cases. This type of case is always attended by many people who advance many views on what should be done, how to recover the body, when the body will come to the surface, where the body will be found, how to proceed with resuscitation if the body is recovered in time, and when the person should be declared dead.

[*This is an error. The maximum depth is 93-100-feet.]

Published March 30, 1946 Used by permission.

Copyright 2006-2007 F. Charles Petrillo