Accident Database

Report ID# 50524

  • Pinned in Boat Against Strainer
  • Near Drowning
  • Inexperience
  • Other

Accident Description

Re: Near Drowning 9-21 Near Elm Island on 21/Sep/2019

My wife and I put in at Violets Lock yesterday at about 10:30 AM. I have been paddled most of the rapids on the Potomac for over 20 years. She had paddled with me over the summer, but was new to white water. She became pinned on the log at the first turn in the GW Channel, and leaned correctly. I paddled back up and we made a plan to get off the log. In one bad moment, the strong pour over at the end of the log caught her edge and flipped her. My boat also flipped and became trapped on the end of the log. My watch read 10:45 when I jumped in to swim after her. She inhaled a lot of water and became disoriented. I pulled her out of the water about 2 minutes later. I was able to keep her breathing and she had a pulse, but was unresponsive for about 20 minutes. 

As Wayne noted, he called 911 at 10:49 AM. I didn't note the time when the river rescue arrived in two inflatables, but they were awesome and very quick. They discussed a helicopter lift, but decided it would be risky and was not necessary. We motored to Riley's Lock and an ambulance took us to Shady Grove Adventist Hospital. By this time my wife was alert and somewhat oriented. She sustained no injuries, but is still being monitored in the hospital for respiratory and heart functions. It was very shocking how quickly things went wrong in a familiar location at a low river level (though there are more obstacles). Wayne, I will  Frankbe eternally grateful to you for your assistance and for the expert response provided by river rescue. I'll contact you about retrieving the boat and paddle.

Frank Bevacqua


Near Drowning 9-21 Near Elm Island

Paddle Prattle Message Board, Monocracy Canoe Club

This is just downriver from Dam #2 and about 1/2 mile south of the golf course. I was hiking by (though I'm a kayaker/canoeist), on the Virginia side. I first saw one kayak hung up on a downed tree and then I heard someone gasping for air about 200 yards downriver on what was probably Elm Island. I called 911. She was a 66 year old and was being tended to by a man of similar age. The other kayak was there. Both people had life vest, helmets and spray skirts.

Montgomery County sent a Helicopter and two rubber boats with a total of 4 staff on the boats. It took the helicopter a while to find us - there are so many islands around there. She was breathing/gasping and they put oxygen on her - which I presume is a good sign. They took her out by boat - but that may have been because it was a tight spot for a hoist. They may have airlifted her out from the middle of the river.

I have no names of those folks but I did haul out one of their kayaks and a paddle. If anyone knows them, I'd be happy to return them.

I was tempted to swim over, but 911 strongly advised against and the male was following all 911 instructions (that we were hollering over). So no sense in that. Yeah I know, no rescuer should put themselves in danger (I've had white water rescue training from NOC and Wilderness search and rescue training. If her companion hadn't been there and so responsive - it would have been a tough call.


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