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May 27, 2022

Teacher mourned after death in Delaware River kayaking accident

Jonathan Gentile, 38, worked at Bethel Park High School and was in New Hope with his father when the incident occurred

Accidents Kayaking
Jonathan Gentile Kayaking Accident @bpsdinfo/Twitter

Jonathan Gentile, 38, died in a kayaking incident on May 22 in the Delaware River in New Hope, Bucks County. Gentile was a history teacher at Bethel Park High School, about 10 miles south of Pittsburgh in Allegheny County.

A western Pennsylvania community is grieving the loss of a teacher who died last weekend in an accident while kayaking the Delaware River with his father in Bucks County.

Jonathan Gentile, a history teacher at Bethel Park High School in Allegheny County, was kayaking the river in New Hope on Sunday when the boat was overturned by rapids, authorities said. Gentile, 38, remained underwater for several minutes before he resurfaced. His father performed CPR on him before emergency personnel arrived and took Gentile to a nearby hospital, where he later died, the Bucks County Herald reported.

Bethel Park School District shared a statement about Gentile's death. He had been a teacher in the district for 15 years. The community is about 10 miles south of Pittsburgh and Gentile had traveled across the state for outdoor activities with his dad.

Bethel Park Assistant Superintendent Zeb Jansante told KDKA that Gentile's death is a "devastating loss" and that he will be missed by everyone who knew him.

"Jon epitomized the spirit of Bethel Park in everything he did and he made an enormous difference in the lives of his current and past students and student-athletes," Jansante said.

Friends of the Gentile family created a GoFundMe page to provide support for them as they grieve.

"A husband, father, son, teacher, coach, colleague, and friend, Jon touched so many of us over the years. As we remember and move forward, let’s try to harness his spirit," wrote family friend Chelsea Casagranda. "Jon never turned down an adventure (sometimes to Kathy’s dismay, hah), and he was always ready with a joke or a laugh. He understood what is easy to forget: life is short; we should have fun, love hard, and not take ourselves too seriously."

By Friday morning, more than $84,000 had been raised to help the family cover funeral costs and future expenses.

Remembered as an avid outdoorsman, Gentile often wore plaid and flannel shirts to school. Casagranda told WPXI that Bethel Park High School students wore flannel and plaid shirts this week in honor of Gentile's life and impact on the school community.