Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2007

Man who drowned in Potomac River is identified

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A Polish citizen staying in Leesburg, Va., was the man who died Aug. 11 after riding a personal watercraft in the Potomac River near Poolesville.

Wojciech Hubert Helinski, 32, was riding a personal watercraft, such as a Jet Ski or a WaveRunner, near Riley’s Lock when his group of friends noticed that the watercraft was empty, Sgt. Ken Turner of the Maryland Natural Resources Police said last week.

Helinski, a swimming pool manager in the United States on a temporary work visa, and his friends had been taking turns riding the watercraft, Turner said.

The friends, who were on shore, flagged down a boat and located Helinski floating facedown and unresponsive near the watercraft, Turner said. There were no signs of trauma, and foul play is not suspected, he said.

Helinski was pulled onto the boat and given CPR, and someone called 9-1-1 at 4:50 p.m., Turner said. He was taken to Shady Grove Adventist Hospital in Rockville, where he was pronounced dead, according to a Natural Resources Police press release.

Helinski came to the United States once a year for business, said Turner. He did not know where Helinski worked. The company and the Polish embassy helped police locate Helinski’s family, he said.

Turner did not know how long Helinski had been in the country.

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Baltimore is conducting an autopsy, and results are expected in about six to eight weeks, Turner said. Natural Resources Police are investigating the incident.

Helinski’s death is the third to occur on the Potomac River in the state of Maryland this year and the second of those deaths to involve a personal watercraft, Turner said. The third fatality was swimming related, he said.

There were four fatalities on the Potomac in Maryland during 2006 — three were boating accidents and one was swimming related, he said.