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Boy pulled from river remains in 'extreme critical condition'

August 25, 2009|From Staff Reports

WILLIAMSPORT - A 13-year-old Martinsburg, W.Va., boy remained in "extreme critical condition" Wednesday evening at Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., after he was pulled from the Potomac River by a fisherman Tuesday afternoon, according to a Washington County's Sheriff's deputy.

The condition of the youth, whose name was not being released Wednesday, was unstable, Deputy 1st Class Carl Witmer said shortly after he spoke to someone at the hospital.

Berkeley County Schools Director of Communications Jaimee Borger said the boy enrolled at Spring Mills Middle School, where he is an eighth-grader, near the end of last school year.

A 14-year-old boy, also from Martinsburg, attempted to help the younger boy, but became tired and swam to shore, according to Witmer.

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The boys had been swimming near a "hot wall," where warm water flows into the river from the R. Paul Smith Power Plant operated by Allegheny Power, Witmer said. The water is usually above 80 degrees and it is a popular place to swim and fish, Witmer said.

It is shallow toward the middle of the river at the power plant, but is up to 16 feet deep in the area where the boys were swimming, Witmer said.

There were three fishermen nearby, Witmer said. One of them, Jacey McElroy of Hagerstown, put on a pair of goggles and dove into the water to search for the 13-year-old, Witmer said.

He found the youth in about eight feet of water, Witmer said.

McElroy and the other fishermen, Matthew Ridenour and Richard Santiago, both of Hagerstown, pulled the boy to the bank, where he was treated by emergency crews, Witmer said. He was taken to Washington County Hospital before being flown to Children's National Medical Center, Witmer said.

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