Cabin John Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department stations 10 and 30 responded to an emergency cell-phone call from three boaters who were lost on the Potomac River on Saturday, Sept. 11. Fire and Rescue received the call at 9 p.m. and dispatched three boats to locate the missing boaters, who parked at Pennyfield Lock, then went out on the Potomac River in a canoe.
The National Park Service was unable to dispatch its Eagle 2 helicopter, so a Maryland State Troopers helicopter was dispatched instead to aid the boats in the search and rescue.
“It took 45-50 minutes of a search to finally pin them down,” said Eugene Roesser Jr., spokesman for Fire and Rescue. The two women were located unharmed on Conn Island in the river near the Potomac Water Filtration plant. “Even when the trooper was right above them, they couldn’t see them.”
The male boater was located stranded on some rocks nearby. “He ended up turning belligerent on the crew,” said Roesser, who did not know if the man was under the influence of alcohol or drugs. “They had to call for state and county police assistance.”
The entire operation took approximately two-and-a-half hours, Roesser said. “I really have to hand it to the state troopers,” said Roesser. “Those guys did a heck of a job.”
The boaters were saved by having a cell phone, said Roesser, who advises anybody going to Great Falls, the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal or the Potomac River to bring a charged cell phone with them, and a flashlight if night is approaching.