On the morning of February 22nd the Potomac River was running at a very high 8’ level. Tom Hamilton, a Washington, D.C. boater was out on an early morning paddle when he encountered two people a small island just above Angler’s Inn. AW’s Steve Taylor reported in the CCA Newsletter that the pair, who were wearing survival suits, had camped illegally along the river the night before and entered the Potomac below Rocky Island at dawn. The pair were quickly swept through Mather Gorge.
Stranded on the island, they called for help. Their calls were answered by a hiker, who left to summon rescue squads. The pair asked Tom to tow them to shore. When they got to shore, they said, they would use their cell phone to call off the rescue. After practicing the tow in an eddy, Tom brought them over to the Maryland side. With the police helicopter in the air above him he paddled to Angler’s Inn .
Tom was greeted there by rescue personnel who angrily asked him “what are you doing on the river?” After they calmed down, he passed on the information on the two people. Unfortunately, the “shore” that he had taken the woman to was actually a high-water island. She was later picked up by rescue boat. The man was found at the illegal campsite; he denied being involved, so the search continued. Eventually the pair were arrested and charged with illegally swimming in the river, plus weapons violations for a concealed pistol. The Park Police drafted a “thank-you” to kayaker Tom Hamilton, and are suing the pair for the costs of the helicopter.