Body of missing kayaker recovered from Potomac River - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Body of missing kayaker recovered from Potomac River

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(Photo: Bob Barnard / @barnardfox5dc) (Photo: Bob Barnard / @barnardfox5dc)
POTOMAC, Md. -

The body of a missing kayaker has been recovered from the Potomac River at Great Falls.

Just before 5 p.m. Thursday, a woman, who is said to be in her 20s and kayaking with a male friend, ran into trouble and was tossed from her kayak at the bottom of what is called the center lines, also known as the fingers.

"Once she came out of the kayak, for some reason, she removed her personal floatation device and attempted to swim toward the Maryland side," said Scott Graham of Montgomery County Fire and Rescue.

That is where she got trapped in the rocks on the far side of a big mound.

One of the people watching with us and with great interest was Chuck Thornton. He is a kayaker from Bethesda who told us he knew the woman.

"She's not from here, but she has kayaked these falls before," he said.

She was in town for this weekend's Great Falls race.

"The only people running the center lines of the falls there are some of the best kayakers in the country,” said Thornton.

And they were the ones doing most of the work to recover the woman's body.

"The guy you can see there in the blue helmet and blue shirt is Jason Beakes. He's on the falls here just about every day. He's one of the best kayakers in the world. With him is Steve Fisher, who is a South African guy who is up here doing a documentary on paddling in the Potomac. Again, he's one of the most famous kayakers in the world,” said Thornton. "A lot of these other guys you see out on the falls are regulars out there."

"A lot of times, the kayakers are here with us whenever we are doing rescues,” said Graham. “They're able to take the kayaks up into areas called eddys, closer to larger rocks where our boats can't get up into."

It took nearly three hours, but they were able to free the victim's body and bring it to the top of the rock mound.

"Part of the ethos of being on the river is everybody helps each other,” Thornton said.

They would eventually lower her back to the water's surface and onto a fire rescue boat for the ride down river.


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