Princeton Native Christopher Benchley Dies in Accident in Jamaica

Christopher Benchley

Christopher Wesson Benchley, son of former Borough Councilwoman Wendy and the late Peter Benchley, the author best known for Jaws, died Dec. 29, in an accident in Montego Bay, Jamaica. He was 24.

A 2005 graduate of Princeton Day School, Mr. Benchley graduated in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree  in marine affairs and a minor in anthropology from the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science at the University of Miami. He had spent his freshman year at the University of Pennsylvania.

As an athlete, Mr. Benchley excelled at soccer and played for the Princeton Soccer Association’s travel teams. He started with the Sparks, coached by Andrew Kalwa, at the age of six and continued with Union ’86, coached by Rob Myslik and Jim Barlow, through his teens. He also played for Princeton Day School his freshman and sophomore years and then turned his attention to crew. He quickly became a strong oarsman and rowed for the newly developed Mercer County Junior Rowing Club. His boat qualified to race in the Head of the Charles in Oct. 2004 and the U. S. Youth Rowing Championships in May, 2005.

An avid scuba diver, he was an amateur marine archaeologist and an advocate for ocean conservation.

In addition to his mother, he is survived by his sister, Tracy Benchley Turner, his brother, Clayton Benchley, and many aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews.

A funeral service will be held at Nassau Presbyterian Church in Princeton on Sat., Jan. 7, at 11:00 a.m. The service is open to all.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to one of Mr. Benchley’s favorite organizations, Shark Savers, at or via mail at Shark Savers, 419 Lafayette Street, 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10003.


  1. Dearest Wendy:
    I’m sooooooooo sorry. My heart breaks for you all.
    He is at Peace.
    Know that.
    You gave him such a wonderful life.
    Liam is trying to get a flight over.
    I will keep you and Tracy and Clayton in my heart.
    Fondest love

  2. I remember Christopher as a tireless young man chasing small white tip sharks through the shallows in Rangiroa. It was wonderful to watch him turn his compass toward RSMAS and the sea. Our hearts are with all of you.
    Strength and Love,
    David and Jennifer

  3. Dear Wendy and Family,

    Words cannot express our horror and grief. Our deepest sympathies to you and family.

  4. Dear Wendy,
    Our deepest sympathy to you and the family.
    Linda and Dudley Sipprelle

  5. Dear Wendy,
    How heart breaking for you and your family.
    It sounds as if Christopher was a gifted young man.
    We can never truly be prepared for such unexpected tragedy.
    My love and prayers go out to all of you for some
    measure of God’s peace in these difficult days.
    Love, Terry

  6. Dear Wendy,
    On behalf of our Skidmore class, I send you and your children condolences and love. I cannot imagine anything more terrible than what you are going through. All I can think of to say to you is a quote from Pete Seeger, something he said when his granddaughter died.
    “when something wonderful happens, it cannot unhappen.” Your wonderful son who happened for you will be a part of you forever. Treasure your memories, and surround yourself with family and friends.

    Love, Debbie (Frankel) Reese

  7. Mrs. Benchley,
    I am so sorry for your loss! Although no words of sympathy can take away your sorrow, may memories of your loved one give you strength for each tomorrow. My condolences to you, Tracy and Clay!

  8. Dear Wendy,

    I am a Skidmore classmate and just want to express my deepest sympathies to you and your family. Losing a child has got to be one of life’s hardest moments.



  9. Dear Wendy,

    I send you love and heartfelt sympathy. Wishing with all my heart that there were a way to make this tragedy less difficult for you and for your whole family. The ache of losing Christopher must be almost unbearable. Hold those whom you love tight, I am told that counting your blessings and the support of family and friends does help.

    Wishing you all good memories, Barbara


  10. Dear Wendy,
    Logan just called from Florida to tell me this devastating news. Our family to yours sends you the utmost strength and love to get through this unbearable loss.
    Nancy, Toby and Logan

  11. Dear Wendy,
    I send deepest sympathy. You and your family will be close in my heart.
    May happy memories help you through this sorrowful time.
    Sincerely, Jane

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