Accident Database

Report ID# 41511

  • Caught in Low Head Dam Hydraulic
  • Does not Apply
  • One Boat Trip

Accident Description

Maryland couple dies after  boat goes over dam

By Dana Hedgpeth,  Washington Post

November 19, 2018

A husband and wife died after the boat they were in went over a dam in Western Maryland, officials said. The incident occurred along Antietam Creek and the Potomac River in the Sharpsburg area.

Maryland Natural Resources Police said they got a call around 10:30 a.m. Sunday saying a boat had flipped over in the area. Officials found the wife’s body later Sunday and her husband’s body Monday morning. The couple was identified as Susan Lynne King, 62, and David Robert King, 63. They were from Keedysville, Md.

Police said the couple had been seen launching their boat into the water Saturday afternoon. Catherine Medellin, a spokeswoman with the natural resources police, said the couple had not been reported missing. A preliminary investigation, she said, shows that their boat went over the dam.

UPDATE: Body recovered

after wrecked boat found in Potomac River; search continues

By Julia E. Greene

Haerstown Herald-Mail

DOWNSVILLE — A body was recovered Sunday afternoon south of Dam No. 4 on the Potomac River while emergency service personnel were wrapping up search efforts as night fell following the discovery hours earlier of a wrecked boat, according to Maryland Natural Resources Police. The identity of the body recovered around 4 p.m. Sunday was not immediately released, but it was a woman, Capt. Brian Albert said.

Rescue workers do not know how many people were aboard the Bass Tracker fiberglass boat, Albert said. The boat was registered to a local couple and no one has answered at the home, including when an officer went to the home. The agency also has not been able to contact family members.

The boat was launched at Big Slackwater, where the truck and trailer were found, Albert said. Big Slackwater is above Dam No. 4, which is south of Downsville. Natural Resources Police were trying to secure video from the National Park Service to help determine how many people were in the boat and when it launched, Albert said.

By the time the body was found, emergency personnel had been searching for hours and continued looking until dark, Albert said. Crews were off the river by 6 p.m. and were wrapping up their efforts for the evening. If they were unable to confirm only one person was aboard by daybreak, the search will resume at first light.

The call for a possible river rescue came in a little after 10 a.m. Sunday when someone driving by the river, in the Canal Road area, spotted an overturned boat in the river, a Washington County 911 spokeswoman said. Albert said his agency was notified at 10:18 a.m. Sunday. Potomac Valley Volunteer Fire Co., a Washington County Special Operations boat, and a Maryland State Police helicopter also were involved in the search.

Albert said it appears the fishing-style boat was new and might have had a temporary registration. Officials were able to check who the boat was registered to through its hull identification number. The boat was still in one piece, but had significant damage, he said.

The state places buoys before dams like Dam No. 4 because they are dangerous. Albert said the buoys can be taken downstream during high water. But the state also places signs along the shore and at the boat ramp about the dangerous dam ahead.

“If you’re not familiar with dams or the river, you cannot see (the dams) when approaching from above,” Albert said. “By the time you realize it, it’s too late.”

Objects are pulled down at the dam’s base, so they can recirculate in the churn, he said.


UPDATE: Body of second victim found on Potomac River

By Dan Dearth

Hagerstown Herald Mail

November 19, 2018

Authorities have found the bodies of a Keedysville couple who were reported missing after a boating accident Sunday on the Potomac River. Maryland Natural Resources Police Capt. Brian Albert said the body of David King, 63, was found at about 9:45 a.m. Monday in a "debris field" beneath Dam No. 4 near Downsville.The body of King's wife, Susan King, 62, was found around 4 p.m. Sunday about a half mile past the dam. 

Albert said investigators believe the Kings were in a fiberglass Bass Tracker boat when they went over the dam. Albert was not sure when that happened. The vessel was brand new and showed signs of severe damage. The initial investigation determined the boat probably submerged after it went over the dam.Albert said his agency was notified about the incident shortly after 10 a.m. Sunday.

The boat was launched at Big Slackwater, where a truck and trailer were found. Big Slackwater is above Dam No. 4, which is south of Downsville.

Authorities called off the search Sunday night after finding Susan King's body, and resumed searching for the body of David King about 8:30 a.m. Monday.

Albert said rescuers from the Potomac Valley Fire Co. and the Washington County Division of Emergency Services recovered David King's body.


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