Ashburn Magazine

Loudoun swift water rescue teams face dangerous challenges

It was April 2017. Late afternoon. A family of five – two adults and three children – was boating on the Goose Creek just off Belmont Ridge Road in Ashburn.

Suddenly, their motor failed. The tiny boat started to drift toward the dam, where water flowed down 20 feet into the adjacent reservoir. The family scrambled into the front of the backwards-angled boat just in time, weighing it down enough to keep them from tumbling over the lip of the dam.

The 2017 rescue of a family on Goose Creek.

Loudoun County Fire and Rescue Department units from Ashburn, Leesburg and Lansdowne raced to the scene. Rescue boats from the Leesburg, Cascades and Lucketts stations were dispatched. Firefighters climbed onto a long, extended aerial ladder to try to reach the boaters, but they were too far away.

Rescue crews hurriedly assembled beneath the dam in case the boat went over. Finally, one of the rescue boats reached the trapped family, and they were towed safely to shore.

(Images here and at top: Andrew Young)

“Swift water rescue incidents are among the most dangerous activities we perform,” then-Loudoun Fire & Rescue Chief Keith Brower said at the time.

That was no hyperbole. While firefighters face many different types of emergencies, having to enter powerful, dark, cold, swirling waters can be among the most daunting.

To read more about the intense training sessions, the most common water emergencies in the area, and the danger of ice rescues — click here and head over to the Ashburn Magazine website.