U.S. Park police helicopters in dramatic river rescue


Press release courtesy of United States Park Police

PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, Va. — Shortly after 1:00 pm on May 31, 2009, the United States Park Police Aviation Section responded to the Occoquan River Dam to assist Prince William County Fire Department with a hoist rescue.

When the motor on a boat became disabled, two fishermen on the river abandoned their boat as it was being swept towards the dam. The fifty foot drop over the dam is described by one rescuer as, “Definitely fatal.” The unmanned boat was swept over the dam and dropped fifty feet.

The two fishermen grabbed onto objects floating in the water. As they neared the dam, Fairfax County Police and United States Park Police Aviation effected a rescue.

United States Park Police Eagle 1 with Sgt. Kevin Chittick as Pilot in Command and Sgt. Ken Burchell as Co-Pilot approached the scene. Rescue Technicians Sgt. Mark Varanelli and Officer David Hurley prepared the hoist.

One fisherman was pulled to the shore by the Fairfax Police Helicopter. The other fisherman was rapidly approaching the dam. The second fisherman was only a few feet from being swept over the dam when the United States Park Police Aviation Officers hoisted him to safety.

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