Accident Database

Report ID# 115829

  • Other
  • Hypothermia
  • Cold Water
  • High Water

Accident Description


"The Cruiser" the newsletter of the Canoe Cruisers Association of Greater Washington D.C.

October 1972

The high waters of October 7th and 8th – they reached 9.69 feet, just short of the 10 foot flood level on the Brookmont gauge – may have provided the Canoe Cruisers with our finest hour since Jamie McEwan’s Olympic Bronze Medal.

“We” (I bask in the reflected glory) effected a dramatic river rescue of two novice paddlers in the presence of the National Capital Park Police, the Glen Echo and Cabin John Volunteer Fire Departments – and the cameras of Channel Nine TV!  I missed the TV report, but I hope many of us CCA members caught Tom Yanosky’s performance on the Saturday Night News.

Tom’s account of the rescue is both simple and routine.  He and other experts had been enjoying the heavy waters at Difficult Run and had decided to leave, as usual, at Old Angler’s Inn.  They met two boatloads of obvious novices about to take off down river.  Tom warned them that the river was rising – and dangerous – and, quite naturally (unfortunately), his advice was rejected, with thanks.  It was some time later that Tom, who had been concerned that the novices would get into trouble, decided he had best paddle after them to provide help if needed.

The paddlers indeed were in trouble.  Somewhere, presumably below Stubblefield, both boats had flipped and, while two paddlers made it to shore to spread the alarm, the other two landed on an islet (slowly disappearing in the rising water) in mid-stream in the vicinity of Lock Eight.  By the time Tom arrived on the scene, the land-based rescuers, listed above, had reached the point of frustrated desperation – they couldn’t get a rope across to the islet – and had called in a helicopter.

Tom took the natural approach of an expert canoeist.  He paddled his open Grumman up to the islet, took one paddler off and carried him to safety, returned to the islet and rescued the second stranded canoeist the same way.  Tom reports his only disappointment came in Channel Nine’s editing of his post-rescue comments:  -- They cut out his plug for CCA and his plea that all beginning white water canoeists join canoeing organizations such as ours. 

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