Kayaker was University of Maryland student

November 28, 2003|by BILL KOHLER

HARPERS FERRY, W.Va. - A man found Wednesday in the Potomac River west of the U.S. 340 bridge died of an accidental drowning, a West Virginia Division of Natural Resources official confirmed Thursday.

The body of Josh Reichert, 22, a student at the University of Maryland, was found Wednesday, five days after he went on a kayaking trip with a college friend.

According to university records, Reichert was an engineering student and was scheduled to graduate in December.

Reichert was a resident of Jessup, Md.

The cause of death was ruled accidental drowning, according to K.E. White, a conservation officer with the state DNR.

White said Reichert and his companion, whom he refused to identify, were using their equipment correctly, but he said the problem was with what "they were not wearing."


White said "both kayakers were wearing their stuff and wearing it very well. However, they were underequipped for the environmental conditions they encountered."

The currents and water temperatures probably played a factor in Reichert's death, White said.

"Right now, it's a little more water than normal - and it's cold," White said.

Reichert's body was spotted at around 2 p.m. by river guide Rob Traynham, who was riding in a Maryland State Police helicopter.

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

White praised the efforts of several units in the rescue of Reichert's kayaking partner on Friday and the recovery of Reichert's body on Wednesday.

White said the Maryland State Police, National Park Service, Division of Natural Resources, kayakers Traynham and Rob Stull and a host of volunteers participated in the search.

"The successful rescue of the survivor and the recovery of Josh was a combination of efforts of a lot of people. The volunteers really make things go," White said.

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