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Woman rescued after kayak accident

April 16, 2006|By ROBERT SNYDER

HARPERS FERRY, W.VA.

A woman was airlifted to Washington County Hospital on Saturday after the kayak she was piloting on the Potomac River near Harpers Ferry became entangled in tree limbs, pulling her underwater, according to a fire and rescue official who responded to the midafternoon rescue effort.

The woman, whose name was not released, was listed as a Priority One trauma patient at the time she was airlifted to the hospital, Potomac Valley Assistant Fire Chief Eric Gray said.

Gray said the woman was one of about eight to 10 University of Maryland medical students who was taking kayaking lessons on the river. He said the kayak the woman was riding in became entangled and capsized in the swift water after tree limbs perforated the waterproof spray skirt that attaches to the boat's cockpit.

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Fire and rescue departments from numerous jurisdictions in Washington and Frederick counties, as well as officers with Maryland State Police, the Department of Natural Resources and Jefferson County, W.Va. responded to the accident, which occurred about 12:50 p.m. about 100 yards below Dam No. 3 north of Harpers Ferry, Gray said.

The woman was freed from the boat by her fellow kayakers and had been carried to a rock in the river prior to the arrival of rescue units, Gray said.

"The other kayakers actually freed her and started CPR," Gray said.

Several of those kayakers later were treated for hypothermia as a result of their efforts to free the woman, National Park Service park ranger Eric Sheetz said.

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