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Man pulls friend out of Antietam Creek after dive

June 04, 2004|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

andrews@herald-mail.com

A man pulled his friend from Antietam Creek at the Mount Aetna Road bridge Thursday evening after both jumped off a dam into the water.

Witnesses said Terry Peterson was underwater for a few minutes.

Peterson was in the emergency room at Washington County Hospital Thursday night, according to a nursing supervisor. His condition was not available.

His wife, Nikita Peterson, who also was in the water, was being treated in the emergency room, the nursing supervisor said.

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Scott Ridgeway, 20, of Hagerstown, said he and Terry Peterson, a friend, were walking together across the dam near the old Municipal Electric Light Plant. Both jumped into the water a few feet below the dam.

"I guess it was just stupid curiosity," an exhausted Ridgeway said shortly after the rescue.

Ridgeway got out of the water after the jump, but Peterson didn't.

Three boys fishing at the creek - Clyde Gatrell, 13; Dillan Foltz, 11; and Jody McElroy, 14 - said they saw Peterson stay underwater for a few minutes before floating to the surface.

Ridgeway said he rushed over to Peterson, grabbed him and dragged him toward land.

Nikita Peterson also tried to get through the water to her husband, but couldn't reach him, Ridgeway said.

Police and fire and rescue crews rushed to the creek at about 7:15 p.m.

As cars packed into the Municipal Stadium lot across the street for the Hagerstown Suns game, police used yellow tape to close off Mount Aetna Road at the bridge.

Emergency workers put both Petersons in ambulances at about 7:40 p.m. and took them to the hospital.

Emergency workers at the scene were not sure how deep the water is below the dam, but they said the current is strong.

They recalled that a man drowned in that spot four years ago.

On April 30, 1998, Justin Michael Fortenberry, 23, of Frederick, Md., was fishing with a friend at the creek when his dog jumped in. Fortenberry dived in after the dog, but drowned in the churning water. His body was found a week later.

And in May 2001, the body of David George Grams, 33, was found in a few inches of water on top of the dam. Hagerstown Police did not consider the drowning to be suspicious at the time.

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