Bystanders rescue 17-year-old from drowning in Potomac River

A 17-year-old boy tried swimming across the Potomac River from Sandy Landing in Virginia on Sunday night, but about halfway to Maryland, he began struggling, and eventually the current pulled him under water.

His friends jumped in to try and save him, but it was two strangers who ended up potentially saving his life.

“This young man is extremely lucky that his friends came to his aid, but more so that lifeguards, there happened to be lifeguards on the Maryland shoreline who didn’t hesitate to assist,” said Pete Piringer with Montgomery County Fire and Rescue.

Those two lifeguards pulled the 17-year-old from the water and performed rescue breathing. By the time Montgomery County emergency responders arrived, the teenager was awake and breathing, Piringer said.

Piringer said the teen was distressed, and he was taken by boat to the area of Old Anglers Inn. From there, he was transported to a hospital in stable condition.

According to Piringer, there was a drowning at almost the exact same spot earlier this year.

“Of course, we all know by now that swimming is prohibited in this area of the Potomac River, for good reason — the currents are very strong,” Piringer said.

Local officials said earlier this summer that more people are swimming in the Potomac during the coronavirus pandemic because pools are closed. They said that has led to more drownings, and they’ve been out urging people to avoid swimming in the river.

“Word goes out to all that the Potomac River is beautiful, we want people to come down here and visit, but it is treacherous, it’s dangerous, it’s deadly,” Piringer said.

Thomas Robertson

Thomas Robertson is an Associate Producer and Web Writer/Editor at WTOP. After graduating in 2019 from James Madison University, Thomas moved away from Virginia for the first time in his life to cover the local government beat for a small daily newspaper in Zanesville, Ohio.

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