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Young boy rescued from Potomac River after nearly drowning

July 30, 2010|By HEATHER KEELS

WILLIAMSPORT -- A preschool-aged boy was rescued from a near drowning in the Potomac River Friday afternoon when his father pulled him out and performed rescue breathing, emergency medical services officials said.

The boy had been swimming with some family members at the "hot wall" near Williamsport where warm water flows into the river from the R. Paul Smith Power Plant, said William Ball, chief of Williamsport Volunteer Fire and Emergency Medical Services Inc.

The incident was reported at 4:04 p.m. and by the time rescuers reached the scene, the father had been able to revive the child, "which was a fantastic thing," Ball said.

The boy was in stable condition when he was taken to Washington County Hospital, Ball said.

The names of the boy and his father were not available. Ball estimated the boy was between 2 and 3 years old.

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Jacob Burger and Travis Rhoton of Williamsport said they were fishing at the dam when the incident happened and helped pull the boy from the river.

Burger, 20, said the father was fishing and the boy and two girls had been playing on the gravel by the water when, suddenly, the father noticed the boy had disappeared.

The men looked around and spotted a swirling pattern in the water nearby, where they pulled out the little boy, Burger said.

"He wasn't breathing at all at first," he said. "It was a big panic rush."

Rhoton, 19, said the father started doing rescue breathing and continued until the boy finally started coughing up water.

The boy was breathing and seemed to be doing OK when he was taken away in an ambulance, the fishermen said.

The incident happened at the same site where 13-year-old Dante Edward Burns of Berkeley County, W.Va., was pulled from the river last August. Burns died two days later at Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

Ball urged river users to use caution around the site, particularly with children and anyone who cannot swim.

"If you don't know how to swim, make sure you have the proper safety protection," he said.

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