Man, son rescued from closed section of C&O Canal towpath

April 15, 2012

WILLIAMSPORT — A man with minor injuries and his teenage son were rescued Saturday night after they became lost on a closed section of the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal National Historical Park towpath and the father fell into the Potomac River while trying to get onto a construction barge, a Williamsport Volunteer Fire and Emergency Medical Services official said Sunday.

The Delaware man and his son, of Hedgesville, W.Va., biked from Williamsport to Harpers Ferry, W.Va., on Saturday, taking the detour around the closed Big Slackwater section of the towpath, Williamsport fire spokesman Scott Bragunier said.

But on their return trip Saturday night, the two attempted to take the closed section of the towpath at Big Slackwater, Bragunier said. That section of the towpath is being reconstructed after it was washed out in a 1996 flood. There is no level path and in some cases not even a path there, Bragunier said.


Riding and then walking their bikes along the closed section, the two reached a point where they could no longer move forward or backward in the dark, and the father attempted to get onto a construction barge, Bragunier said. After falling into the river, the father got onto the barge while the son remained on shore, Bragunier said.

A call for help was reported at 8:38 p.m. Saturday, according to Washington County Emergency Services, the 911 dispatch center.

Williamsport and Washington County Special Operations firefighters used two special-operations boats to rescue the man and his son, Bragunier said.

Both were brought to shore shortly after 10 p.m. Saturday, according to Washington County Emergency Services.

The father refused medical treatment, Bragunier said.

A Maryland State Police helicopter was called to the scene for lighting, but the call for the helicopter was canceled at about the time it arrived, Bragunier said.

— Julie E. Greene

The Herald-Mail Articles