Body found in Potomac is that of fisherman, D.C. police say

Correction: Due to incorrect information from the U.S. Park Police and D.C. police, the name of the man whose body was found in the Potomac River was published incorrectly. He is Changqing Yang. This version has been corrected.


Changqing Yang poses for a portrait in this undated handout image. Yang went missing April 12 while fishing along the Potomac River in Montgomery County. His body was found April 17 by kayakers near Georgetown. (U.S. Park Police )
May 13, 2013

A body found in the Potomac River by kayakers last month has been identified as a 73-year-old man who disappeared while fishing in Montgomery County, D.C. police said Monday.

Changqing Yang disappeared April 12. He had been fishing from the riverbank near Chain Bridge Road, according to U.S. Park Police, which had posted Yang’s picture on the agency’s Web site. Police said they found his personal items, including fishing gear.

Five days later, kayakers pulled a body ashore near a boathouse at the base of Key Bridge in Georgetown. Police said the body was badly decomposed and required forensic testing. The cause of death is listed as pending by the D.C. Medical Examiner’s Office, a spokeswoman said Monday.

Yang’s relatives could not be reached for comment.

Yang’s body was the fourth pulled from District waterways in April. Authorities have not determined the cause of death in any of the cases.

On April 1, Arlester Jay, 36, an Iraq war veteran who had disappeared from Prince George’s County in March, was found in the Anacostia River. Relatives said they suspect foul play. On April 6, Robert Groshan, 63, of Northwest Washington was found in the Potomac along Ohio Drive near the Tidal Basin. Police have said they suspect suicide in that case, but they have not made a final determination.

On April 11, Sarath Kumar Potharaju, 35, a Chicago tourist who disappeared on Easter, was found in the Tidal Basin. Police said he might have fallen into the 10-foot-deep water while sightseeing.

Yang disappeared on the Maryland side of Great Falls. The water in that area is considered treacherous, part of a 14-mile-long gorge that stretches to the Key Bridge in the District.

Brent O’Neill, site manager for the National Park Service’s Great Falls Park on the Virginia side of the river, said visitors are warned of the rapids. The number of people who die in that stretch of water is difficult to determine because multiple police jurisdictions oversee the area.

O’Neill said that in the past, six deaths per year in the gorge was fairly typical, but statistics are not kept. O’Neill said a sign posted during the 1980s at one of the overlooks reads seven deaths a year, but he said the information has never been updated.

O’Neill also said that a sign no longer posted at the park’s entrance once warned, “If you enter the river, you will die.”

He said the area where the fisherman disappeared is called Little Falls, and it has competing currents that form whirlpools that can “pull objects to the very bottom of the river.”

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