Crews search for a swimmer seen attempting to cross the Potomac River near Fletcher's Boathouse, who didn't resurface. Image: DC Fire & EMS/ Twitter

Man Drowns on Potomac During Attempted Swim

For the second time in a month, a person has drowned attempting to swim in the Potomac River. First responders are renewing their warning: it is dangerous and illegal to swim in the Potomac.

On Sunday, June 6, multiple witnesses reported seeing someone try to swim the river from the Virginia side to the D.C. side near Fletchers Boathouse. The witnesses, who D.C. Fire and Rescue called “credible”, saw the swimmer go under and fail to resurface.

D.C. Fire and Rescue, a Maryland State Police helicopter, search boats from D.C. Police and the Arlington Fire Department, and the Coast Guard all searched for a possible victim. D.C. Police recovered a body from the Potomac on Tuesday morning.

D.C. Fire and EMS posted on Twitter, “The river around & north of Fletchers is beautiful, scenic, but DANGEROUS! Don’t put your life at risk.” There are posted signs banning swimming in the area, as Potomac currents are much stronger than they look to an untrained eye.

The apparent drowning near Fletchers was the second death on the river in the span of a month; the first was in Montgomery County, Md.

On Memorial Day, a group of people in their 20s went in the water near Scott’s Run, north of the American Legion Bridge, according to Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service (MCFRS). One man went under and didn’t resurface., The body of Franky Gonzales Sapacio, 26, was recovered a half-mile downstream on June 3.

MCFRS spokesman Pete Piringer says “No Swimming” signs are posted nearby. “Swimming is prohibited. There are very strong currents. It’s shallow, and then can be 50 feet deep,” says Piringer.

There are only a few areas of the Potomac that allow swimming in Montgomery County: Seneca Creek in Poolesville and White’s Ferry. MCFRS is doing community outreach to inform people of the dangers on and around the Potomac, walking the trails and going out on the water.

-Meg Walburn Viviano