Kayaker's body found

November 27, 2003|by CANDICE BOSELY

The body of a kayaker missing since last Friday was found Wednesday afternoon, entangled in some driftwood along the edge of the Potomac River just downstream from Harpers Ferry.

West Virginia Division of Natural Resources officer K.E. White said the man's family had been notified, but White would not release the kayaker's name.

The man's body was spotted at around 2 p.m. by a river guide riding in a Maryland State Police helicopter.

Firefighters from Jefferson County, W.Va., and Loudoun County, Va., parked ambulances and firetrucks along the side of U.S. 340 and used ropes to make their way down the steep embankment to the river.


After the man's body was freed from the driftwood, it was loaded onto a rescue raft. Emergency workers took the raft upstream and loaded the man's body into an ambulance waiting in Harpers Ferry.

White said the man was wearing a spray skirt and that he was sandwiched between two logs. The spot where he was found is downriver from the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers.

Rob Traynham, a raft guide with River & Trail Outfitters, was one of several people who searched the river almost daily looking for the missing kayaker. He said he used his canoe every day except Tuesday to try to find the man.

Although Traynham went past the spot where the man's body was found, he said that unless one knew exactly where to look it was impossible to see the body from the river.

While riding in the helicopter, Traynham glimpsed something red in the water just off the river's bank. It was the man's life jacket, he said.

Traynham said inexperienced people should not be on the river in the winter, when the water temperature can be 50 degrees or colder.

The kayaker and a friend were on the Shenandoah River Friday afternoon when both of their kayaks overturned in the Bull Falls area. One of the men swam to a small island nearby, where he eventually was rescued. White said the other man was swept downriver by the swift current.

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