Potomac ferry snag leaves passengers stranded

By Clarence Williams
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, December 10, 2009; 8:44 PM

Nearly 30 passengers were stranded for about three hours on White's Ferry in the Potomac River after the boat was snagged on a tree floating downstream late Thursday, authorities said.

No injuries were reported. Police and rescuers were called to the Virginia and Maryland banks of the river about 4:30 p.m., after ferry operators tried to free the vessel from a large branch that brought it to a halt about 15 yards from the Maryland side of the river, said Asst. Chief Scott Graham, a spokesman for the Montgomery County Fire Department.

Graham said the ferry confronts "debris like this all the time," but rarely gets stuck for for such a long time.

Crew members tried to cut portions of the tree, without success. As the fire department prepared to launch rescue boats to shuttle the ferry's 29 passengers to land and shelter in a Ride-Along bus, the boat suddenly came free about 7:30 p.m., Graham said.

The ferry service remained closed Thursday night, Graham said, and it was not clear whether it would resume for the Friday morning commute.

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