Philly firefighter dies participating in a triathlon

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Philadelphia Fire Department

An off-duty Philadelphia firefighter died over the weekend while participating in the Escape the Cape Triathlon at the Jersey Shore.

On Monday, he was identified as Dennis “Denny” McDaniels, 36. McDaniels was a 12-year veteran of the force. He was assigned to Ladder 15 in the Frankford area. CBS3 reports he leaves behind a wife and four sons. 

Officials say he was found unresponsive around 9:05 a.m. during the swimming portion of the Escape the Cape Triathlon. Rescuers pulled him from the water and administered CPR on the beach. 

McDaniels was taken to Cape Regional Medical Center in Cape May Court House, where he was pronounced dead at 10:20 a.m.

Jim Salmon, a spokesperson for the Delaware Bay and Bridge Authority, spoke with, saying, “He had nearly completed the initial swimming portion of the Escape the Cape Triathlon when he was found … in apparent cardiac arrest by an event volunteer stationed near the course.”

According to Reuters, every 1.74 out of every 100,000 triathalon competitors dies of cardiac arrests. Dr. Kevin Harris, a cardiologist at Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation at Abbott-Northwestern hospital, told Reuters that, “The majority of deaths occur in the swim portion of the triathlon, which is the first portion of the race.”

“During this portion of the race, the athletes likely experience an adrenaline surge as they enter the water and are competing in close proximity to other athletes, and in some cases with environmental conditions that are difficult to prepare for,” Harris said. “We don’t understand the exact cause of death in each athlete, and some swim deaths may be related to drowning.”