(Updated at 11:25 p.m.) At least two people have been pulled from the water on an icy cold night after a car drove into the Potomac along the GW Parkway.
The crash was first reported around 9:30 p.m., near Columbia Island Marina and the Humpback Bridge. It was not immediately clear how the car ended up in the water.
Initial reports suggest that one person was quickly able to get out of the water, possibly with the assistance of U.S. Park Police. They were taken to a local hospital via ambulance.
Another person was reported to be trapped and was taken to a hospital in critical condition after a rescue operation and CPR being performed on shore. NBC 4 reported tonight that that person has died.
Arlington County firefighters and D.C. fireboats assisted with the rescue operation alongside Park Police. Rescuers also searched the water for a possible third victim, according to scanner traffic.
“The two occupants were located and removed from the vehicle in the water,” ACFD said via social media. “Both were transported to area hospitals, one with life-threatening injuries.”
The northbound lanes of the Parkway are expected to remain closed until after midnight, according to Arlington Alert, likely as a result of the crash investigation. As of publication fire department personnel were in the process of clearing from the scene.
#FinalUpdate: The two occupants were located and removed from the vehicle in the water. Both were transported to area hospitals, one with life-threatening injuries.
— Arlington Fire & EMS (@ArlingtonVaFD) November 18, 2022
LOCATION: NB George Washington Parkway (GW Pkwy) at I-395
INCIDENT: Police Department Activity
IMPACT: All NB lanes of GW Pkwy is blocked at I-395/14th St Bridge. Pedestrian traffic is closed in the area. Road closures may continue for 2-3 hours. Seek alt pic.twitter.com/zNpAe0W9Ar
— Arlington Alert (@ArlingtonAlert) November 18, 2022
DC Fireboats on scene assisting @ArlingtonVaFD with vehicle in water GW Parkway vicinity of the Humpback Bridge. This is an @ArlingtonVaFD incident and media inquiries should be directed to them.
— DC Fire and EMS (@dcfireems) November 18, 2022
Traffic Alert: Crash investigation northbound George Washington Memorial Parkway in area of Columbia Island. Northbound traffic diverted to 395. Ramp to GWMP from 395 also closed.
— USPPNEWS (@usparkpolicepio) November 18, 2022
VA: #Arlington George Washington Pkwy NB at I-395/14th Street Bridge all traffic stopped for the incident, ALL NB TRAFFIC DIVERTED ONTO NB I-395. #vatraffic https://t.co/ribJyV7Rgl pic.twitter.com/58JV8xjasr
— WTOP Traffic (@WTOPtraffic) November 18, 2022
Eagle is assisting with the search for a person reported submerged in an auto into the Potomac River. @HCBright10 @ARLnowDOTcom @HelicoptersofDC https://t.co/mwCm38K7jP pic.twitter.com/frXBiQbH3f
— Alan Henney (@alanhenney) November 18, 2022
A group is seeking to make it legal to swim in the Potomac again.
The Potomac Riverkeeper Network is working to get D.C. to lift its decades-old swimming ban, saying that the Potomac is now clean enough for safe swimming in certain parts of the river. From the group’s website:
Swimming has been illegal in the Potomac in DC since 1971, when the river was plagued with sewage and toxic chemicals. Passage of the Clean Water Act in 1972 led to gradually improving water quality, and our community science monitoring shows that the Potomac in DC is often clean enough to swim at public access points such as the Tidal Basin, Hains Point and Fletcher’s Cove. PRKN will mark the 50th anniversary of the Clean Water Act in 2022 by seeking a formal commitment by Mayor Bowser and the DC Council to lift the ban on swimming in the Potomac and to work with the National Park Service to identify safe places for people to swim.
As the Potomac is under the jurisdiction of D.C. from shoreline to shoreline, the swimming ban applies to waters adjacent to Arlington and Alexandria as well.
Boat traffic, dangerous currents, and other hazards mean that not everywhere on the river is suitable for swimming. But the idea of a public beach with lifeguards on the river could be appealing, especially during the hottest summer days.
(For the record, the group advocating for an Arlington boathouse says a public beach adjacent to the facility — which will be near Roosevelt Island and Rosslyn — has not been under consideration. “That has never come up before in our discussions as a group,” George Kirschbaum of the Arlington Boathouse Foundation tells ARLnow.)
Given the ongoing swimming discussion, we’re wondering what percentage of readers would actually go for a dip in the river, if given a chance.
There is a new sign of progress on the 30-year-old project to build a boathouse in Arlington.
In anticipation of planning and design work kicking off this year, the Arlington Boathouse Foundation — an organization that exists to ensure residents one day can launch non-motorized boats, such as kayaks, into the Potomac from the county’s shoreline — has launched a new website.
It is intended to provide frequent updates on the project’s progress as well as engagement opportunities, says foundation secretary George Kirschbaum. Those who need a refresher on the project, given how many years it has been discussed, will have easier access to important documents and answers to frequently asked questions, he added.
“We needed something new and fresh that’s more about the project,” Kirschbaum said. “Plus, we hope to provide some new interesting features, such as interviews with community members and interested parties to give their ideas and impressions of why this facility is important to the county and the residents.”
The website will also promote foundation-sponsored educational and promotional events, such as a river cleanup this June by the proposed lower portion of the site. Kirschbaum said foundation leaders hope events such as this one demonstrate the sustained community interest in the facility to project leaders.
Momentum has been building over the last year to build a boathouse at 2105 N. Lynn Street in Rosslyn. The project is a joint venture between Arlington County and the National Parks Service, as the county’s Potomac shoreline is NPS property.
Most recently, Kirschbaum said boathouse foundation leaders met with county officials, Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) and NPS representatives in December to discuss roles and responsibilities and how to keep the project moving forward.
This year, the county will solicit designs for the facility, to be comprised of two buildings: one near the entrance to the Key Bridge with locker rooms, workout areas, offices and meeting spaces, and the other at river level with storage for boat and stand-up paddle equipment, according to the boathouse website.
The county budgeted $4.75 million for planning and initial designs in the 2022-24 Capital Improvements Plan.
The project is popular with Arlington’s crew community, as it would provide them a more convenient boat launch that is away from D.C.’s crowded boathouses. Crew alumni and their friends also comprise many of the members of the Arlington Boathouse Foundation, which has pushed for the facility since 1991.
“It’s been a long process,” says Kirschbaum, who rowed for Washington-Liberty High School (then Washington-Lee) in the 1980s.
It didn’t gain momentum until 2012, when the parks service initiated an environmental impacts study — looking at how construction could affect floodplains and species living in the waterway. The study was held up several times before resuming in 2016 and wrapping up in 2018.
Meanwhile, the county purchased land south of the Key Bridge in 2014 to speed up the process and, despite some opposition, the Arlington County Board authorized an agreement with NPS in 2019.
“I think it’s important to know that the county has a very vested interest in working with the National Parks Service to see this through to fruition,” Kirschbaum said. “There are still high-level discussions about how are we going to work together to move forward, but those talks are happening… We can actually envision a boathouse where before, it was the dream.”
Kirschbaum says he hopes the boathouse will be ready if and when his currently elementary school-aged kid goes out for crew in high school.
New Covid Testing Location — “Arlington County is opening an additional no-cost COVID-19 testing kiosk at Sequoia Plaza. The kiosk is in partnership with Curative, which operates four additional sites in the County. The kiosk is located at 2100 Washington Blvd, on the service road behind the Stambaugh Human Services Center building (Sequoia 1). Beginning on Thursday, Feb. 3, 2022, the kiosk will operate Monday-Friday, 9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.” [Arlington County]
Va. Changing Covid Tracing Efforts — “Today, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) announced it is changing from attempting to investigate every case of COVID-19 and trace all contacts to focusing on follow-up of outbreaks and cases in high risk settings. This response is more effective when a virus spreads very easily and quickly and many infected people do not have symptoms.” [Virginia Dept. of Health]
Hurt Hiker Rescued Along Potomac — “First responders from three agencies worked together to come to the aid of an injured hiker along the Potomac River Wednesday morning. DC Fire and EMS deployed fireboats to work with DC Police in assisting Arlington Fire and EMS. DC Fire’s Fireboat 1 used its ice breaking capabilities while DC Police sent an airboat… The injured hiker was taken to Roosevelt Island and an Arlington EMS unit took the hiker to be treated.” [WJLA, Twitter]
Another Arlington Reference on Jeopardy! — Arlington and its first-in-the-state school integration effort on Feb. 2, 1959 was the subject of an answer on quiz show Jeopardy! last night. [Twitter]
Big Donation to Local Nonprofit from Bezos Ex — “The Arlington, Virginia-based National Council on Aging has received an $8 million donation from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott, its largest single gift in the nonprofit’s 72-year history. The council [said] the donation is unrestricted, and will be used to support its work addressing inequities that make it difficult for women, minorities, LGBTQ, low-income and rural Americans to age with dignity.” [WTOP]
Betty White Posthumously Helps AWLA Fundraise — “She died three weeks earlier, but the centennial of the birth of Betty White still allowed animal-welfare agencies across the nation to raise funds. The Animal Welfare League of Arlington received more than $37,000 from 740 donors during the “Betty White Challenge” event on Jan. 17, which would have been White’s 100th birthday.” [Sun Gazette]
W-L Gymnasts in Regional Tourney — “Winning a fourth straight district title would have been the ultimate [prize] for the Washington-Liberty Generals. But since the girls high-school gymnastics team was far from being at full strength, a more realistic goal was to at worst earn a region-tourney berth by finishing among the top three. Mission accomplished.” [Sun Gazette]
It’s Thursday — Rain today, mainly before 1 p.m. High near 54. South wind 7 to 9 mph, with gusts as high as 22 mph. Sunrise at 7:11 a.m. and sunset at 5:32 p.m. Rain tomorrow before 4 p.m., then a mix of rain and snow likely, possibly mixed with sleet. High near 47. Northwest wind 11 to 16 mph, with gusts as high as 23 mph. [Weather.gov]
Structure Fire Near Ballston — “Units located a detached structure on fire behind a house with minor extension to the house. The fire was quickly extinguished with no reports of injuries to firefighters or civilians. The fire remains under investigation by the Fire Marshal’s Office.” [Twitter, Twitter]
Plane Runs Off DCA Runway — “A Frontier Airlines plane slid off the end of the runway at Reagan National Airport Friday night. Flight 538 from Denver was arriving at the airport at about 10:30 p.m. when the incident happened, Micah Lillard of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority said.” [WTOP]
Apparent Drowning in Potomac — “Several agencies said they called off a search for a swimmer in the Potomac River near Fletcher’s Boathouse Sunday. D.C. Fire and EMS called the situation an apparent drowning… Shortly after 3 p.m., a witness reported seeing a person try to swim the river from the Virginia side and not resurface, the fire department said. D.C. Police fire boats and units from the Harbor station, Arlington Fire Department boats and a Maryland State Police helicopter were assisting in the search.” [NBC 4, Twitter]
Arlington Ridge Water Work — From the Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services: “Monday night – Tuesday morning: Water main maintenance work near S Arlington Ridge Road/Long Branch Creek could cause temporary low water pressure or service outages for nearby customers, 8pm to 8am.” [Twitter]
Sheriff Supports New Police Chief — From Arlington County Sheriff Beth Arthur: “Today, more than ever, police chiefs must commit to the principles of trust, accountability and transparency. I believe Andy [Penn] has demonstrated leadership in each of these areas and I look forward serving the Arlington community alongside him in his new role.” [Arlington County]
Mixed-Use Tower in Ballston for Sale — “The owners of Ballston’s tallest building are exploring its sale. Brandywine Realty Trust (NYSE: BDN) and the Shooshan Co., the developers behind 4040 Wilson Blvd., the final phase of the larger Liberty Center project, have put the $217 million tower on the market. The 23-story, 250-foot-tall building, completed last year, includes 225,000 square feet of office on the lower 10 floors topped by 250 apartments.” [Washington Business Journal]
Beyer Supports Fusion Power Research — “”If we do not pursue fusion energy, others will, and U.S. economic interests and influence will diminish as a result,” writes @RepDonBeyer in @sciam, arguing this energy tech can help the climate emergency and create #trillions of $$$ in economic growth.” [Twitter, Scientific American]
Newspaper Editor Attacked by Cicadas — From Sun Gazette Editor Scott McCaffrey’s blog: “The cicadas largely have left me alone, although two did get on my pants over the weekend and surreptitiously made it into Casa de Scotty… I gently removed those buggies and deposited them back outside so they could continue their search for love in what little time they have left on this earth. But yesterday, taking a midday walk around Falls Church, a more aggressive cicada flew right into the back of my shirt and started wriggling his (or her) way deeper in.” [Sun Gazette]
Photographer Taking Silly Cicada Snaps — “Oxana Ware is a talented photographer based out of North Arlington, but along with her business side, she likes to have fun and be a little silly at times. That’s why it just seemed right to her when she decided to have a full photoshoot with cicadas, complete with handmade props.” [WJLA]
County Marking Sit-In Anniversary With Art — “It was delayed a year due to the pandemic, but a commemoration marking the 1960 civil-rights sit-ins in Arlington is now beginning. The Arlington County government had planned to mark the 60th anniversary of sit-ins at Arlington lunch counters with special programming on the Arlington Art Truck, using prints by artist Amos Paul Kennedy Jr. to immerse the public in the experience, in 2020. But the effort was a victim of the pandemic – until now.” [Sun Gazette]
Arlington-Based Axios Making Moves — Digital news outlet Axios, based in Clarendon, is launching local news publications in a number of cities this year, including Washington. It is also reportedly in discussions to be acquired by a German news conglomerate. [Washington Post, Marketwatch]
Masks Coming Off For APS Athletes — “It looks like Arlington school officials have abandoned their masks-on policy for most athletes while engaged in competition.” [Sun Gazette]
ACFD Assists with Potomac Search — “Person seen going into Potomac River & not resurfacing… [After a search involving D.C., Arlington and other water rescue teams, medics] transported an adult female in critical life threatening condition. Law enforcement will investigate the circumstances.” [Twitter, Twitter]
Secretary Pete at DCA This Afternoon — “U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg and Mary Kay Henry, International President of the two million-member Service Employees International Union (SEIU) will host an immigration roundtable discussion with 32BJ SEIU’s airport workers at National Airport (DCA).” [Press Release]
(Updated at 11 p.m.) Two vehicles careened off the GW Parkway and into the Potomac River near I-395 earlier tonight.
The incident happened shortly before 8:30 p.m. First responders on the ground and in boats rushed to the scene and rescued at least of the victims. Two men were brought to local hospitals in stable condition, according to the Arlington and D.C. fire departments.
U.S. Park Police is investigating the incident; so far there’s no word as to how it happened.
Both vehicles — one of which is fully submerged while the other is partially submerged on the riverbank — are expected to be pulled out of the water overnight.
#Update Photos from the scene at NB GW Parkway. 2 patients have been transported to local hospitals by @dcfireems in stable condition. One vehicle remains fully submerged and another partially submerged on riverbank. Both vehicles will be recovered overnight. pic.twitter.com/gK2TnhFr2R
— Arlington Fire (@ArlingtonVaFD) January 13, 2021
Update water rescue GW Pkwy N/B north of I-395. 2 adult males transported with non life threatening injuries. @DCPoliceDept have divers in water investigating submerged vehicle. #DCsBravest Fireboats assisting. This will be an @ArlingtonVaFD & @usparkpolicepio incident. pic.twitter.com/gvaYhHeWVP
— DC Fire and EMS (@dcfireems) January 13, 2021
Photo via Arlington County Fire Department
Arlington County firefighters and other authorities are investigating a possible hazmat situation on the water at Theodore Roosevelt Island.
A kayaker spotted an oil sheen on the shoreline and called the fire department, we’re told. Arriving firefighters confirmed the sheen, though it initially appears limited in scale.
“We have units on scene (landside) at Roosevelt Island investigating a sheen of a petroleum product around the island,” Arlington County Fire Department spokesperson Taylor Blunt tells ARLnow. “US Park Police Harbor Patrol and Eagle 1 (helo) are also there checking the extent of the spread.”
“It appears to be isolated in nature, possibly due to a passing boat that had a leak in their bilge,” Blunt added. “They’re still investigating and don’t believe there is any threat of harm to wildlife or visitors at this point.”
Water Rescue Over Weekend — “Rescue units from Arlington County and D.C. had to save a person late Saturday afternoon that was in need of help on the Potomac River near the area of GW Parkway and Windy Run after being stuck on rocks. Arlington officials said in a Tweet that the person rescued was evaluated and transported to a trauma center with non life-threatening injuries.” [WUSA 9]
Election Specials at Bayou Bakery — “Chef David Guas will make a pair of election-themed sandwiches at his Arlington bakery on on November 2 and 3. A McDonald’s-esque ‘Filet-O-Catfish’ represents President Trump, with cheese and pickled jalapeño tartar sauce. For Joe Biden, Guas riffed on a sandwich from Delaware sub shop Capriotti’s, offering up the ‘Bobby 2.0’ with sliced roasted turkey, cajun cornbread stuffing, and cranberry vinaigrette.” [Eater]
Beyer Bill to Make Pandemic Preps — “Today, Rep. Rick Larsen (WA-02), Chair of the House Aviation Subcommittee, and Rep. Don Beyer (VA-08) introduced the National Aviation Preparedness Plan Act of 2020, legislation to require the development of a national aviation preparedness plan for future public health emergencies.” [Press Release]
Wizard’s House Still for Sale — “Longtime Washington Wizards player Martin Gortat has put his Arlington house on the market. Gortat was the team’s starting center from 2013 until 2018, when he was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers. He retired from the NBA in February. Since leaving Washington, he’s been using the Arlington house as a luxury rental property.” [Washingtonian, HomeSnap]
Eden Center is an Election Battleground — “At a Biden rally at the Eden Center in Falls Church, Va., it took minutes before Trump supporters showed up to heckle. Banh mi seller Quang Le says it’s ‘like the Jets and the Sharks.'” [DCist, Twitter]
Photo courtesy James Mahony
Boat Catches Fire Near Gravelly Point — “Update boat fire Gravelly Point. Vessel is well involved. #DCsBravest Fireboats in active attack on burning vessel. The 11 occupants are being transported to Fire/Police pier for evaluation.” [Twitter, Twitter]
Flags at Half Staff in Va., U.S. — “Per an order from @GovernorVA, the Virginia flag is to be lowered to half staff at all federal, state and local government facilities across Virginia in memory of U.S Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died Friday. Flags are to remain lowered until burial.” [Twitter, White House]
AMC Shirlington Temporarily Closed — The AMC Shirlington 7 theater appears to have suddenly, temporarily closed over the weekend. AMC’s website shows no planned showtimes at the theater. The reason for the closure was not given. The theater reopened on Aug. 27 at a reduced capacity after closing at the beginning of the pandemic. [Twitter]
Beyer Still Pushing for Rosslyn Boathouse — “The seemingly interminable planning process for a new boathouse facility in Rosslyn already has outlasted one of its champions in Congress, and while U.S. Rep. Don Beyer (D-8th) is not planning on departing any time soon, one wonders if it might outlast him, too. Not if Beyer has anything to say about it. ‘It’s moving very slowly, but it will be done,’ Beyer vowed.” [InsideNova]
Local Startup’s Return to Office Normalcy — “Phone2Action’s first step toward that elusive new normalcy appears to be going as planned. That’s the latest word from Jeb Ory, CEO and founder of the advocacy platform, who said those employee volunteers the company selected to be the first workers back into Phone2Action’s headquarters at 1500 Wilson Blvd. seem to adapting well to the workplace changes.” [Washington Business Journal]
County Board Approves New Bonds — From last week: “The Board [voted] to authorize the sale of up to $172.32 million in General Obligation Public Improvement Bonds for new projects and the refunding of existing bonds to lower interest rates and save taxpayer money.” [Arlington County]
Arrest Made in Eden Center Nightclub Homicide — “City of Falls Church Police identified Geovanny Alexander Mejia Castro as the homicide victim in the September 11, 2020 shooting at the Diva Lounge (6763 Wilson Blvd.). Mr. Castro, a security guard at the nightclub, died from multiple gunshot wounds.” [City of Falls Church]
Labor Day Closures — “Arlington County Government offices, courts, libraries & facilities will be closed on Monday, Sept. 7, 2020 for Labor Day.” Trash will be collected but parking meters will not be enforced. [Arlington County]
Library Buildings Remain Closed — “Even as neighboring Fairfax County is approaching the two-month mark for its reopened library system, Arlington officials appear in no rush to bring their library system more than marginally back to life. That means that while Arlington patrons will continue to have the chance to check out books online and pick them up at a central repository, they remain barred from visiting branches or wandering the stacks.” [InsideNova]
Bluemont BLM Protest Continues — “Father, in his red scooter, and son first rolled down the bike path to this corner in Arlington, Va., just after George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis police custody on May 25. They’ve been back most weekdays since, more than 60 times so far, as demonstrators in Louisville and Atlanta marched for justice for Black Americans killed at the hands of police and protests surged following the police shooting of Jacob Blake last month in Kenosha, Wis.” [Washington Post]
Deep Dive Into New Bridge — “The preferred alternative would add a new two-track rail bridge north of the Long Bridge while retaining the existing bridge without modifications. The plan would cost approximately $1.9 billion. The existing span would retain its CSX ownership, and the new span would be Virginia’s.” [Greater Greater Washington]
MU Extends President’s Contract — “Marymount University’s Board of Trustees unanimously voted to extend the contract of President Irma Becerra by an additional five years to 2026. This action comes one year earlier than expected, as Board members felt strongly that due to Dr. Becerra’s significant accomplishments during her tenure, it was important to ensure her continued association with Marymount on a more accelerated timeline.” [Press Release]
Trump Boat Parade Planned — “A boat parade is planned in support of President Trump on Sunday on the Potomac River. According to a Facebook post from an entity known as “Liberty Rally,” boaters will gather just before 1 PM in the Wilson Bridge no-wake zone and then proceed up the Potomac.” [Washingtonian]
Kanye Booted from Ballot — “A Richmond Circuit Court Judge has ruled that rapper Kanye West will be removed from the ballot as a presidential candidate in Virginia. The decision came after an attorney representing the plaintiffs in the case and Attorney General Mark Herring accused the West camp of acting fraudulently to get on the ballot.” [NBC 12]
Va. Booze Biz is Booming — “The Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control Authority announced Wednesday retail sales of $1.2 billion in fiscal 2020 — a nearly $120 million increase from the previous year and the second year in a row the liquor monopoly surpassed $1 billion in sales.” [Richmond Times-Dispatch]