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Two rescued from creek

June 10, 2003|by LAURA ERNDE

laurae@herald-mail.com

Two Hagerstown men were rescued from the rushing, rain-swollen waters of Antietam Creek on Tuesday.

Russell Smith, 21, said he was walking across the murky creek behind the Creekside Inn when he slipped on a rock and got swept over a dam and into swift waters.

His friend, James Poole, 18, went out to help him and both men found themselves unable to find a safe route back to shore at about 5:30 p.m., they said.

When rescue crews from Long Meadow Volunteer Fire Co. arrived, they tied ropes to two orange life jackets and floated them downstream to the men, who were standing shivering in the middle of the creek.

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Firefighters with rescue ropes were positioned downstream in case the men had lost their footing, said Long Meadow Fire Chief John Latimer.

John Bentley, chief of the Washington County Special Operations team, put on a full-body waterproof suit and life jacket and waded out to the men, he said. He was connected to safety ropes.

Hand-in-hand, the three men returned to shore.

The rescue operation took about 30 minutes, Latimer said.

Latimer said the two were lucky they didn't get sucked into the churning motion of the dam and drown.

"The Antietam Creek was not made for swimming," he said.

No trespassing signs are posted along the creek's banks, which are owned by the Creekside Inn, he said.

The men said the water was cold and rushing so fast they had trouble standing.

"When I first went in, my shirt went over my head. I thought I was going to drown," Smith said.

At 6:45 p.m., rescue crews were called to the Potomac River for a second possible water rescue.

A cell phone caller reported that two people went out on the river and had not been heard from. The call got disconnected before emergency officials could get more information, said a Berkeley County, W.Va., dispatcher.

Rescue crews from Washington County searched the river near Williamsport but did not find anything. The search was called off about 8:30 p.m., Washington County dispatchers said.

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