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DNR says Potomac River at dangerous levels

February 21, 2000|By JULIE E. GREENE

SANDY HOOK - Two days after emergency crews rescued a kayaker from the Potomac River, an advisory warning people the river is too hazardous for recreational use remains in effect.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources issued the advisory for the Upper Potomac River on Sunday, the day rescue crews lifted a man off an island in the river near the Md. 340 bridge, rescue officials said. The warning was scheduled to stay in effect through today.

Christopher Riley, 23, of Ranson, W.Va., was treated at Frederick Memorial Hospital and released on Sunday, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Riley was taken to the hospital to be checked for hypothermia after his kayak overturned around 1:15 p.m. on Sunday, said Fire Chief Ronnie Gray with Potomac Valley Volunteer Fire Co.

Another kayaker helped Riley reach an island near the Md. 340 bridge, where a Maryland State Police helicopter lifted him in a basket and carried him to a nearby ambulance, Gray said.

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Gray said the other kayaker went to the West Virginia shore and was gone before rescue officials could find out who he was.

Boonsboro Ambulance and Rescue Inc., Brunswick Volunteer Fire Co., and Brunswick Volunteer Ambulance Co. also responded. Both Brunswick and Potomac Valley had boats ready to launch, but didn't because of the helicopter rescue, Gray said.

The water level has been rising because of recent rainfall and melting snow, but was still far from flood level on Monday, according to the National Weather Service.

When the water level rises it flows faster making the river more hazardous, said meteorologist Dewey Walston.

On Monday afternoon the river was 10.6 feet deep at Shepherdstown, W.Va., where flood stage is 15 feet, Walston said.

At Hancock, where flood stage is 30 feet, the river was 11.5 feet deep, he said.

Still, water conditions were too dangerous for fishermen, swimmers and tubers, according to Natural Resources Police.

The warning doesn't apply to professionally guided river trips or experienced teams of white water paddlers, police said. Risks are always associated with river travel, police said.

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