Woman Rescued From Potomac River

Wednesday, Apr 20, 2011  |  Updated 2:26 PM EDT
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A woman is rescued from the Potomac River by the Cabin John River Rescue Squad.

A woman is rescued from the Potomac River by the Cabin John River Rescue Squad.

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Risky Rescue on the Potomac

A kayaker in Montgomery County found herself in trouble after her boat overturned in the Potomac River.

Raw Video: Kayaker Hangs Onto Tree in Potomac

A kayaker hangs onto a tree in the swollen Potomac River.
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A woman boating in the swift-moving waters of the Potomac River had to be rescued Monday.

The Cabin John River rescue team was dispatched to the river south of Violet's Lock to help assist the woman, whose kayak had overturned.

Authorities said the woman was a 31-year-old resident of Virginia. She told the rescue team that she had attempted to put her boat in on the Virginia side of the river, near Potomac, Md.,  but the current was too strong.  She instead launched on the Maryland side near Riley's Lock.  Paddling out into the river, her boat was overturned by the fast-moving current.

The woman was wearing a life preserver and was able to grab on to a branch overhanging the river.

A doctor who was birdwatching on the C&O Canal spotted the distressed kayaker through his binoculars, Pat Collins reported. He phoned authorities, and the rescue team was dispatched.

A helicopter went up to search for the woman.  After authorities located her position, a crew on a rescue speed boat was dispatched to haul her back in.

"We grabbed her and pulled her toward the one side of the boat, pulled her up over the boat and back into the boat safely," said Peter Gillis, of Montgomery County Fire and Rescue.

The woman told the team on the boat that she had been using her legs to conserve her energy so she could continue hanging on to the tree.  According to authorities, she had been out of the boat and in the river for about 30 minutes.

"She was fatigued, she was hypothermic, she didn't know if she could hold on much longer," Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Assistant Chief Scott Graham said.

She thanked the rescuers who pulled her out of the river.

"She said, 'I didn't think I could hold on much longer,' and she was like, 'I'm glad you guys are finally here,'" Gillis said.

The woman, who was not immediately identified by authorities, was taken to an area hospital for hypothermia treatment.

Joseph Bell, who has been with the swift water rescue team for three years, told Collins he'd never seen the Potomac as rough as it was Monday.

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