Woman drowns in C&O canal

child hospitalized

March 04, 2002|By Richard Irwin | Richard Irwin,SUN STAFF

A woman apparently drowned and her daughter was in critical condition last night after they were pulled from the frigid waters of the C&O Canal near Glen Echo in Montgomery County, said the U.S. Park Police yesterday evening. Their identities were withheld pending notification of family members, said Park Police.

Peter Piringer, a spokesman for the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service, said authorities received a call about 6 p.m. that a man had been pulled from the canal near Clara Barton Parkway and Lock No. 5 of the historic canal along the Potomac River.

The man, who was suffering from hypothermia, said a woman and child - believed to be his girlfriend, 36, and her daughter, 5 - fell into the water and were swept away.

Piringer said rescue units from Montgomery County, Washington, Fairfax, Va., the Park Police and divers trained in cold-water rescues and recoveries began searching the water between the lock and a chain bridge downstream, aided by a Park Police helicopter equipped with an infrared searching device.

About 8 p.m. Piringer said, searchers found personal property in a feeder canal that apparently belonged to the missing pair. A short time later, county firefighters found the woman and child under about 6 feet of water nearby and rushed them to hospitals in Washington amid resuscitation efforts.

The woman was pronounced dead at George Washington University Hospital, while the child was in critical condition at Children's Hospital.

Piringer said a firefighter was seriously injured during the rescue operation when he was struck by a large tree limb. He was taken to Suburban Hospital Healthcare in Bethesda.

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