14 rescued from Potomac River after HS rowing team’s skiff, 'chase boat' overturn

14 rescued from Potomac River after HS rowing team’s skiff, 'chase boat' overturn (Tom Roussey/ABC7)

Fourteen people had to be rescued from the frigid Potomac River late Wednesday afternoon after two boats from a high school rowing team overturned in heavy winds.

A rowing skiff with nine members of Bishop O’Connell High School’s girls crew team on it overturned not far from the Kennedy Center. A “chase boat,” a motorized boat that joins crew teams as they practice, also overturned with five people on board.

DC Fire and EMS said the girls, along with those in the chase boat, were not in the water long thanks to good samaritans in other boats who rescued them. Several were rescued by a water taxi.

DC Fire and EMS sent crews by boat and ground to the scene and evaluated all 14 people. Spokesperson Vito Maggiolo said all of them are expected to be OK, but four were taken to the hospital in good condition as a precaution.

Maggiolo says crews received an emergency call just before 5:15 p.m. Wind gusts were running between 30 and 40 miles per hour around that time and the temperature was barely above 40 degrees.

One parent expressed concern to ABC7 News about why the girls were practicing on the Potomac in such conditions.

“It could have been much worse. People could have gone under,” Maggiolo said, before adding, “It’s really a matter of common sense. If things are bad out there, avoid putting yourself in a dangerous situation.”

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