HARPERS FERRY, W.Va. — A man swam 100 yards to shore Sunday night to seek help when his family’s canoe tipped in the Potomac River, leaving his wife and 6-year-old daughter clinging to a rock until rescuers arrived, Potomac Valley Fire Co. Chief Eric Gray said.
Gray and fire Sgt. Donald Warfield navigated a boat 25 feet from the rock, then Gray swam to the woman and child and pulled them to the rescue boat. He said the water temperature was 62 degrees, and the river is above normal stages.
Maryland State Police helicopters provided a spotlight for the rescue, which started after crews were alerted at 6:12 p.m. Everyone was out of the water by 8 p.m., Gray said.
Harpers Ferry emergency medical technicians evaluated all three family members, who asked not to be taken to a hospital, he said.
The family reported making its usual trip from the Dargan Bend Boat Ramp to Lock 34 when the canoe tipped at an old dam and became wedged, Gray said.
“They were able to swim toward a rock. ... They were shook up, obviously,” he said.
Potomac Valley Fire Co.’s swift water team trains all summer, according to Gray.
Fire and ambulance crews responded from Washington and Frederick counties in Maryland, as well as Jefferson County in West Virginia.
— Jennifer Fitch