Hypothermic kayaker rescued by off-duty natural resources officer
It was a real case of “right place, right time” last week for a struggling kayaker on the Upper Potomac River, and her story has a happy ending.
The Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP) said its own First Class Officer, David Brown, was off duty at the Lander boat launch (Lockhouse 29 along the towpath of the C&O Canal) around 5 a.m., getting ready to go waterfowl hunting with friends.
Before they could launch their boat, Agent Brown heard what sounded like a person screaming for help in the distance. NRP says the group immediately launched their boat and headed for the person who was screaming in the dark night.
Officer Brown and his companions found a 40-year-old woman clinging to a rock in the water. She held on with one hand and grabbed a submerged kayak with the other. NRP says she had been kayaking since 9 p.m. the previous night and her kayak had capsized overnight, hours before Brown found her.
She had also lost her car keys and mobile phone when she fell into the water.
Afraid to swim to shore due to darkness and the strong current of the Potomac River, the woman felt trapped in place. His hands were pale, cold and wrinkled and his lips were blue.
Constable Brown pulled the woman into his boat and called an ambulance. Back at the boat launch, EMS crews met Brown and the victim to rush him to the hospital. She was treated for hypothermia.
Officer Brown says the woman was wearing her life jacket when she fell from her kayak, a factor that likely saved her life.
-Meg Walburn Viviano