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Man Drowns in Potomac

A man drowned while swimming in the Potomac River on Sunday, Aug. 22, said Eugene Roesser, spokesperson for the Cabin John Park Volunteer Fire Department.

The body of Celso Enrique Mendez-Escalante, 25, of the 500 block of Beacon Drive in Silver Spring, was found at approximately 2 p.m. on Monday, said Lucille Bauer, spokesperson for the Montgomery County Police Department.

He was found at the bottom of the river in about 15 feet of water in the vicinity where Mendez-Escalante was last seen. "Fire and Rescue conducted an underwater operation with a visibility of about one foot,' said Dericj Bailes of the Montgomery County Police.

A group people were at the river, near the Billy Goat Trail and Old Angler's Inn, said Roesser.

Mendez-Escalante and his bother decided to swim to Offutt Island in the middle of the river, Bauer said.

The area, downstream from Great Falls, appears placid. "It was very shallow and it looks very, very calm," Roesser said. "It looks like you could walk across it down there."

The men made it out to the island and spent some time fishing, Roesser said.

As it started to get dark, the men decided to swim back to shore. "They took a different path back," said Bauer.

"One made it back and one was seen going under," Roesser said.

The water in the area is more dangerous than it looks. "Those currents underneath are what's so dangerous," Roesser said. "We speculate he hit one of those whirlpools underneath."

The other four in the group began looking for the missing man. No one in the group had a cell phone.

Eventually, a group of hikers came along and one of that group had a phone and placed the call. "The actual going under went on about 15 or 20 minutes before the call went out," Roesser said.

The Montgomery County Swift Water rescue team, which is based at Cabin John, was joined in the search by the U.S. Park Police helicopter and the Fairfax County, Va. Swift Water rescue team, Roesser said.

Rescuers looked for about an hour and a half before it became too dark to continue, Roesser said.

The search continued on Monday, when the body was found. The body was taken to the State Medical Examiner's Office in Baltimore. At this time, investigators do not suspect any foul play, Bauer said.