Woman killed in Potomac River kayaking incident identified as Columbia U. student

A woman who died Sunday after a kayaking accident in the Potomac River has been identified as a Columbia University student.

Ella Mills, a junior at the School of General Studies, was visiting the area with the university’s whitewater kayaking club at the time of her death, Columbia University President Minouche Shafik confirmed in a message to students Monday.

Mills was an international student from Dublin, Ireland, having arrived in New York City at the beginning of the month to participate in Columbia’s dual BA program with Trinity College, according to a statement from School of General Studies Dean Lisa Rosen-Metsch.

“Words cannot express how heartbroken I feel for her family, her friends, her loved ones, and those students from the University who were with her on this trip,” said Shafik in her statement.

Montgomery County Fire and Rescue spokesperson Pete Piringer said officials responded to a call for assistance around 3:15 p.m. Sunday in the area of the C & O Canal National Historic Park.

Mills was pinned “under a rock (in hydraulics)” when multiple people came to assist her, according to Piringer. She died hours after first responders arrived, despite aid from passersby and support from first responders.

As of Sunday night, according to Piringer, D.C. police were investigating the incident.

Get breaking news and daily headlines delivered to your email inbox by signing up here.

© 2023 WTOP. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

Kate Corliss

Kate Corliss is a Digital Writer/Editor for WTOP.com. She is a senior studying journalism at American University and serves as the Campus Life Editor for the student newspaper, The Eagle. Before joining WTOP, she covered local Connecticut news at the Rivereast News Bulletin and reported on Congress

Federal News Network Logo

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up