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More Than 20 Saved in Water Rescues This Year, Many From Harrowing Close Calls

Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Services have responded to dozens of water calls this year.

Rescue workers have saved 23 people in water rescue calls this year, including a victim swept down a waterfall who clung to a rock, according to the latest numbers from Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service. 

As of Aug. 22, MCFRS river rescuers responded to 37 incidents according to a report from the river rescue team. Most of the calls came from the Potomac River area, including 12 swift water rescue calls, nine calls from the Billy Goat Trail, which passes along the Potomac River, and another three calls from the C&O Canal and towpath. Other calls were made for incidents in the county’s lakes or due to flash flooding and poor driving conditions.

These statistics do not include a call made earlier this month, when first responders pulled a man’s body from the river. Investigators are looking into cause of death, but he is believed to have drowned after being caught under a rock.

In August, MCFRS responded to a call near the Virginia side of the river where a visitor had fallen into the river below Great Falls. The victim was swept down the waterfall, and was found clinging to a rock. He had no obvious injuries and refused EMS transport, according to MCFRS spokesperson Beth Anne Nesselt.

Despite the drama of these incidents, rescuers told Patch in August that call numbers so far this year have remained relatively low, in part because of lower water levels.

“This year has been fairly quiet. Some years you’re on the water every day,” said David DeVore, a career firefighter with the county for 14 years.

In 2011 MCFRS responded to 81 calls and rescued 57 people. Forty-five of the calls were for the Billy Goat Trail, C&O Canal or swift water rescues. In-land calls, including the rescue of stranded drivers in flashflood conditions, were the most frequent of the 2011 rescue stats with 23 calls. On average MCFRS river rescue teams respond to around 70 calls a year.

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