The Washington Post

Driver not seriously hurt after car plunges into C&O Canal in Georgetown

Police are trying to determine how a car veered off a Georgetown street Wednesday afternoon, then plunged perhaps 10 feet to the bottom of the C&O Canal.

The driver of the vehicle suffered minor injuries and was taken to a hospital for treatment, according to a spokesman for the D.C. Fire Department.

There was not much water in the canal, so the car did not submerge. Fire Battalion Chief Brian Lee said the male driver was getting out of the car, which turned over on its side, as rescuers approached shortly after 3 p.m.

Lee said the biggest difficulty faced by firefighters was keeping onlookers from climbing into the canal to help the man.

It was unclear how the car got into the canal. Sgt. Paul Brooks, a spokesman for the U.S. Park Police, which has jurisdiction over the national park that includes the canal, said the car may have been traveling south on 33rd Street NW when it plunged into the canal.

Lee, the fire department spokesman, said witnesses told authorities that it appeared the driver intentionally drove into the canal, making what appeared to be a deliberate turn onto 33rd Street and speeding up as the car approached the drop-off.

But Brooks said the cause remains under investigation.

“We can’t determine a cause,” the sergeant said. “We’re not going to speculate.”

He said it could be driver error, the result of a medical condition or a mechanical problem with the car.

DC Firefighters rescued the driver of a vehicle that drove into the C & O Canal in #Georgetown today #DCFD

— DC Fire Fighters L36 (@IAFF36) January 16, 2013

Peter Hermann covers crime for The Washington Post.

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