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Two teens nearly drown after being sucked through a pipe on the Patapsco River

Posted at 6:35 PM, Jul 11, 2018

After her daughter's traumatic experience, a mom wants to warn people of hidden hazards along the Patapsco River.

Anne McCarthy's 17-year-old daughter and her friend nearly drowned after they were walking in knee-deep water just off Ilchester Road on July 4.

The two teens stepped off a rock ledge and dropped into deeper water. 

The current was strong but McCarthy says something much more powerful pulled the two into side-by-side pipes.

Emergency responders described people waving shirts in the air to flag down the helicopter for assistance. Units were sent to the area where they found the girls on different sides of the river. McCarthy's daughter was transported to Howard County General Hospital for treatment. The other girl was sent to Shock Trauma. Both girls were released from the hospital and fully recovered.

"Once Gracie went through the piping and was on the other end, which was probably another pipe length or two from that site, she was down in the water, her head was down. She doesn't remember being conscious until a man grabbed her by both arms and lifted her and then it was like she came to suddenly that's the best she can describe it," said McCarthy.

If it wasn't for the people who called 911 and pulled the two from the water, McCarthy's convinced they wouldn't have survived.

“I would say it was life-changing for sure and I just don't want it to happen to anyone else,” she said.

McCarthy called the park to make them aware of her concerns.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources said they have signs warning people about the ongoing construction.

The safety of our visitors is a paramount concern. This incident occurred at the Bloede Dam construction site, an active construction zone that has been off-limits to the public since September 2017. The area is marked by warning / no trespassing signs visible from land and water. The department urges all visitors to Patapsco Valley State Park to observe these warnings and please stay clear of this area," said a spokesman with Maryland DNR.

The dam, built in 1907 to provide electricity to Catonsville and Ellicott City, has long been out-of-service. It's been deemed a safety hazard and impediment to fish migration and the river around it has been closed. Emergency responders also made note of the construction zone when responding to the incident.

Still, the public has found a way down to the water despite the warnings or McCarthy would say lack thereof.

"I want to see a barricade, have that roped off, danger, potential drowning, construction site, make it as clear as people as possible," said McCarthy. 

Again, Maryland DNR said they've put up no trespassing signs that are visible by land and water and they're reminding everyone to stay clear of those areas.

McCarthy just wants to warn everyone to be careful and she's hoping to connect with the other people on the river that day so she can thank them for saving the two teens lives.