Dipnetter dead after losing consciousness on Kenai River

71-year-old man likely died from pre-existing medical condition

A 71-year-old Alaska resident died early Tuesday morning after losing consciousness and falling into the Kenai River while preparing to dipnet.

Edwin Ruff was pronounced dead at Central Peninsula Hospital at 7:58 a.m.

Ruff did not drown, said Kenai Police Department Sgt. Ben Langham, but the exact cause of death is still unknown.

"We don't know what the cause was," Langham said. "I think it was from a pre-existing medical condition."

Kenai Fire Department Chief Mike Tilly said an ambulance crew responded to a call to assist a man who was standing on the bank of the river down stream of the Warren Ames Bridge at about 7:22 a.m. Tilly believed the man had suffered a heart attack and slumped over his dipnet into the water.

Bystanders pulled Ruff to the shore and started CPR before the ambulance crew arrived. Ruff was unconscious while being transported to the hospital, Tilly said.

Though Ruff is an Alaska resident, he has a residence in Washington as well. Langham described him as a "transient Alaskan snowbird" who spent summers traveling around the state.

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