National Park Service, United States Park Police, Montgomery and Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Departments, D. C. Police Harbor Patrol, and Partner Organizations Renew Effort to Eliminate Potomac Gorge Preventable Drowning and Increase Hiking Trail Safety Awareness
• WHAT: Press conference to provide context and background for wide-spread effort to prevent incidents of drowning in the Potomac River Gorge and to reduce the number of hiking accidents on the Billy Goat Trail before the height of the recreational boating, kayaking and hiking seasons begin.
News photographers will have a photo opportunity with Montgomery and Fairfax County Fire & Rescue swift water rescue boats providing access onto the river to show the hazards of the Potomac River Gorge and of the Billy Goat Trail, part of the C&O Canal National Historical Park.
National Park Service and U.S. Park Police will unveil a new video product designed to show all visitors the hazards and dangers of the Potomac River Gorge. Besides English, the video has been translated into Spanish and Vietnamese, as these communities have provided the largest number of persons recently lost to drowning. Copies in all three languages will be made available.
• WHEN: Thursday, April 29, 2010. 11:00 a.m.
• WHERE: Old Angler’s Inn, 10800-block of MacArthur Blvd., Potomac, MD. Park in C &O Canal parking lot, walk downhill and across the C&O Canal’s Tow Path down to the Potomac River to press conference site at River’s edge. News media will board the rescue boats after the press conference.
• WHO: Representatives from the National Park Service, United States Park Police, Montgomery County, MD, Fairfax County, VA and District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department’s Harbor Patrol Unit.
NOTE: The NPS, U.S. Park Police, Montgomery County Fire & Rescue and Fairfax County Fire & Rescue will have Spanish language personnel available onsite, and the U.S. Park Police will also have Vietnamese language personnel available and on-site for news media interviews.
BACKGROUND: Rescue boats will be available providing photographer and reporter access onto the river to show the danger and hazards of the Potomac River Gorge and of the hiking challenges with the C&O Canal’s Billy Goat Trail. The NPS, the USPP and Montgomery County have recorded an increase in the number of preventable hiking accidents in this area resulting in broken and sprained ankles, broken legs, head injuries including concussions and other serious injuries that result in governmental agency efforts to treat and airlift injured hikers out of the river and from the Billy Goat Trail.
Sadly and regrettably, six (6) persons drown accidentally in the Potomac River Gorge in 2009. Between 2005 and 2008, there had been no accidental drownings in the Potomac River Gorge. Prior to 2005, between two and six persons accidentally drown, on average, in the Potomac River Gorge annually. The Potomac River Gorge is a 14-mile stretch of the Potomac River defined as immediately north of Key Bridge to just north of Great Falls on the Potomac.
Federal, county, city agencies and partner organizations play a large role in helping to ensure river and trail safety and want to remind all visitors of the dangerous conditions present, and to have visitors take necessary measures to prevent hiking accidents and to prevent drowning.
NOTE: News photographers and reporters are strongly advised to wear appropriate footwear, rain gear and clothing for wet and muddy conditions!
From the National Park Service Media Advisory