Old browser warning

Site look funky?  Your browser is either Internet Explorer (hit refresh (F5) several times due to a bug in Microsoft's code that we can't work around) or is 10 years old and standards-based layouts and styling confuse it.   Consider updating.  One excellent option is Mozilla Firefox, versions of which are available for Linux, Mac and Windows. Safari 1.0+ and IE 6.0+ are also supported.

Accident Database: Accident #3743

  Help
River: Potomac (3. Great Falls
Reach #:
low
01h44m
Section: 3. Great Falls (Center Lines)
Location: Grace Under Pressure
Gauge: 3.5 feet; 8600 cfs
Water Level: Medium
Difficulty: V
Accident Code(s): Swim Into Undercut Trap
Injury Code(s): Fatal
Age: 23
Experienced/Inexperienced: Expert Paddler
Years Paddling:
Private/Commercial: Private
Boat Type: Kayak - Unknown
Boat Manufacturer: unknown
Boat Model:
Number of Occupants: 1
Number in Group: 2
Number of Victims: 1
Other Victim Names:
Hazard Codes: Blast rock, Low Head Dam, High Water, Hydraulic/Keeper Hole, Man-made Debris Strainer, Pin/Broach, Rocks that cause blunt trauma, Natural Strainer or Sieve, Water Temp, Waterfall
Initial Report:
Summary:
Detailed Description:
On July 11, 2013 at approximately 3:45 PM, two highly experienced whitewater kayakers put on the Potomac River at C&O Canal National Historic Park, "Great Falls", in Potomac, MD. The two boaters, Will Seeber and Shannon Christy, had the intention of kayaking down familiar lines of the Falls. Together, they paddled down to the starting area above the first drop. Shannon went first into the first drop of the Center Lines of the Falls, "Grace Under Pressure". From Will’s vantage point above, her entry into the waterfall looked normal. Will followed approximately fifteen seconds behind Shannon, only to find no sight of her at the base of the waterfall. Will proceeded into the second section of the Center Lines, "Ledges", thinking that Shannon had paddled down as if practicing a continuous run. While Will was approaching the final waterfall of Center Lines, "The Middle Finger", Shannon appeared, swimming out of her boat in full paddling gear. She was swept down the slide, "Hollywood Boulevard", rapidly approaching "Subway", which is a known deadly section of the run. The cause of Shannon’s swim is unknown. Will attempted to come to her aid, but could not reach her in time before the fast-moving currents pulled Shannon into "Subway". Will paddled down "The Middle Finger" in order to attempt to rescue Shannon. There was no sight of her. Minutes later, her PFD and helmet surfaced, still no sighting of her. After Will notified park rangers and onlookers at the shore, rescue crews arrived via motorized raft. Rescue personnel transported Will down the river to Old Angler’s Inn to speak with authorities, preventing him from continuing his search for Shannon. An extraordinary rescue effort was then led by professional kayakers, Steve Fisher and Jason Beakes. The sophisticated effort was executed by numerous kayakers who arrived on the scene to assist. Will returned to Great Falls to help the other kayakers in the rescue. The team was able to successfully extract Shannon’s body from a catastrophic underwater pin in "Subway" hours later.
 

 

Witness Narrative:
On July 11, 2013 at approximately 3:45 PM, two highly experienced whitewater kayakers put on the Potomac River at C&O Canal National Historic Park, "Great Falls", in Potomac, MD. The two boaters, Will Seeber and Shannon Christy, had the intention of kayaking down familiar lines of the Falls. Together, they paddled down to the starting area above the first drop. Shannon went first into the first drop of the Center Lines of the Falls, "Grace Under Pressure". From Will’s vantage point above, her entry into the waterfall looked normal.
 
Will followed approximately fifteen seconds behind Shannon, only to find no sight of her at the base of the waterfall. Will proceeded into the second section of the Center Lines, "Ledges", thinking that Shannon had paddled down as if practicing a continuous run. While Will was approaching the final waterfall of Center Lines, "The Middle Finger", Shannon appeared, swimming out of her boat in full paddling gear. She was swept down the slide, "Hollywood Boulevard", rapidly approaching "Subway", which is a known deadly section of the run. The cause of Shannon’s swim is unknown.
 
Will attempted to come to her aid, but could not reach her in time before the fast-moving currents pulled Shannon into "Subway". Will paddled down "The Middle Finger" in order to attempt to rescue Shannon. There was no sight of her. Minutes later, her PFD and helmet surfaced, still no sighting of her. After Will notified park rangers and onlookers at the shore, rescue crews arrived via motorized raft. Rescue personnel transported Will down the river to Old Angler’s Inn to speak with authorities, preventing him from continuing his search for Shannon.
 
An extraordinary rescue effort was then led by professional kayakers, Steve Fisher and Jason Beakes. The sophisticated effort was executed by numerous kayakers who arrived on the scene to assist. Will returned to Great Falls to help the other kayakers in the rescue. The team was able to successfully extract Shannon’s body from a catastrophic underwater pin in "Subway" hours later.
 

 

This was the first fatality in Great Falls since Todd Andrew’s 2004 drowning, also in the “Center Lines” section of Great Falls.

 

Police ID Kayaker

Who Drowned at Great Falls

Kayak race has been cancelled so memorial can be held

By Jackie Bensen
|  Friday, Jul 12, 2013  |  Updated 6:28 PM EDT

 

Kayakers rappelled down slick rocks and fought their way through some of the Potomac's fastest rapids Thursday evening to recover the body of a fellow kayaker who drowned near Great Falls in Maryland. The woman who died has been identified as Shannon Christy, 23, of Greenville, S.C. She was in the area for this week's 26th annual Potomac River Festival, which features a race at Great Falls attended by some of the nation's best kayakers. "She was an expert kayaker," Jason Beakes said.

Organizers of the race cancelled it Friday, so Christy's friends and family could hold a memorial service, scheduled for 11 a.m. on the Virginia side of the Great Falls. The other Potomac River Festival events will go on as scheduled. "Shannon Christy loved kayaking and it is through kayaking that we honor her memory," said Active Nature, which organized the event, in a statement. Christy's fellow kayakers recovered her body about two hours after she went missing.

Christy was kayaking with another boater Thursday afternoon when she went into the rapids of the Center Lines of Great Falls. Each of the rapids are named, and kayakers are familiar with their quirks and dangers.

The second boater followed Christy into the first rapid, called "Grace Under Pressure," according to the statement from Active Nature. He was only about 15 seconds behind Christy, but after traveling through the rapid he didn't see her or her boat. He continued down the run, according to Active Nature's account. As he approached the last major rapid in the series, he saw Christy, out of her boat and swimming. He tried to reach her, but she was swept into a dangerous rapid called "Subway," which Active Nature called a "known deadly section of Great Falls. "

The second boater alerted authorities. Montgomery County Fire and Rescue, Fairfax County Fire and Rescue and helicopters with U.S. Park Police were dispatched to conduct the search, but it was the volunteer rescue kayakers who located the body, in the "Subway' rapid. Emergency crews had reportedly let the kayakers continue their recovery of the body because they knew the difficult terrain better even than the rescuers.

The rescuers had to feel their way through waterfalls and "washing machines" -- churning stretches of whitewater that can pull down even the strongest swimmers. Video of the recovery shot by Chopper4 shows kayakers carefully making their way through the rapids, using straps to secure themselves.

A group of up to 10 kayakers worked on the recovery. At about 6 p.m., they set up a pulley system to recover the body, carefully holding on to the straps as they braced themselves on the rocks. Other kayakers stood the water or waited in kayaks nearby in case more help was needed.

"We had some of the best kayakers in the world on hand and it took a lot of effort just to get that spot in the river," Beakers said.

Chuck Thorntown, a kayaker at the scene, told Bensen the men were very experienced kayakers. The group helped retreve her body for Christy's family, they said."

The Potomac can be a dangerous place for kayakers and swimmers. The Great Falls area is classified as "Class V" whitewater, among the most extreme rapids considered to be passable by kayakers.

 

 

Body of Missing Kayaker Pulled from Great Falls

Thursday, Jul 11, 2013  |  Updated 7:43 PM EDT

 

The body of a 24-year-old woman whose kayak upended was recovered by fellow kayakers approximately two hours after she went missing.  According to News4's Jackie Bensen, a male kayaker went after the woman just after 4 p.m. She reportedly lost her personal floatation device and helmet in the process.

Montgomery County Fire and Rescue, Fairfax County Fire and Rescue and helicopters with U.S. Park Police were dispatched to conduct the search.

At approximately 6 p.m., a group of approximately seven kayakers set up a pulley system to recover the body of the kayaker. Emergency crews reportedly let the kayakers continue their recovery of the body due to the terrain.The woman was attending this week's Potomac River Festival.

 

Body of missing kayaker recovered from Potomac River

Posted: Jul 11, 2013 6:44 PM EDT

POTOMAC, Md. - The body of a missing kayaker has been recovered from the Potomac River at Great Falls.Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Assistant Chief Scott Graham said they received a call of two kayakers in distress at around 4:15 p.m. Thursday.

Graham said they found an adult male kayaker on a rock and he told authorities he was kayaking with a 24-year-old female who had come out of her kayak for an unknown reason.

The rescued kayaker said he saw her become entangled or hung up in a rock area and it appeared she removed her black personal floatation device and tried to swim towards the Maryland shore. That was the last time she was seen.

We are told the missing female kayaker was in town for a weekend competition at the Potomac River.

 

Fellow Kayakers Pull Woman's Body from Great Falls

By Mila Mimica
Thursday, Jul 11, 2013
 
The body of a 24-year-old woman whose kayak upended was recovered by fellow kayakers approximately two hours after she went missing.  According to News4's Jackie Bensen, a male kayaker went after the woman just after 4 p.m."He witnessed her being hung up near a rock area, wasn't sure why and wasn't sure how, but then witnessed her taking her personal floatation device off and trying to swim to the Maryland shore, which is the last he saw of her," Scott Graham with Montgomery County Fire and Rescue said.
 
Montgomery County Fire and Rescue, Fairfax County Fire and Rescue and helicopters with U.S. Park Police were dispatched to conduct the search. At approximately 6 p.m., a group of approximately seven kayakers set up a pulley system to recover the body of the kayaker. Emergency crews reportedly let the kayakers continue their recovery of the body due to the terrain. Chuck Thorntown, a kayaker at the scene, told Bensen the men who helped pull the woman's body were very experienced kayakers. The group helped retreve her body for her family, they said.
 
She was attending this week's 26th annual Potomac River Festival.

 

Conclusions:
Link:
Report Status: On Going