Potomac River rowers rescue Key Bridge jumper

Decrease Increase Text size

(WJLA) - A normal day on the water turned into a harrowing ordeal for two local rowers. They sprang into action to save the life of a man who jumped off the Key Bridge.

Sadie Quarrier and Lena Wang were just putting their oars into the Potomac River at 6:49 a.m. when they heard a splash.

The 100-foot plunge happened two arches away from the Virginia side of the river. Quarrier and Wang rowed to the spot in less than three minutes.

“It was kind of desperate. He was freaking out from impact,” says Quarrier. “At a few points he yanked down (on the oar). We could tip in a heartbeat.”

Tipping their narrow racing shell would mean the rescuers themselves would need to be rescued. 

The water temperature was 39 degrees, chilly enough to send the body into cold shock response where it body hyperventilates uncontrollably. If you are submerged you can easily die.

Quarrier called 911 and another two-man boat helped form a more stable float. D.C. Police and the Harbor Patrol met them at a dock 16 minutes after the splash that not only saved a man’s life, but also reassured them about the will to live when given a second chance.

Recommended For You