BROOKEVILLE, Md. (WJZ)—A young Maryland man breaks swimming safety rules. Now he’s feared dead, and his story is sparking new concerns at local reservoirs.

Weijia Jiang shows us the dangers at those reservoirs.

It’s day two of an aggressive search for a 21-year-old Maryland man in Brookville’s Triadelphia Reservoir.

Crews find nothing.

Police say Bruce Yansen, of Aspen Hill, was swimming with two friends near Route 97 on Friday when he went under.

“It’s just another reason for me not to go, the more I hear about it,” said K.C. Miller, Loch Raven Reservoir.

“I find it scary,” said Kelly Gerbrick, Loch Raven Reservoir.

At the Loch Raven Reservoir, WJZ found a group of friends who say they are afraid to swim. But police say plenty of others are not– even though it’s illegal.

In Baltimore’s three reservoirs, search teams recently pulled out three people over a short span of six weeks. They all died.

“All three victims were in excellent physical condition,” said Chief Ranger Luke Brackett. “The more challenging environment of this water proved to be too much for them.”

Police say it’s the conditions of the water in a reservoir that makes it so dangerous. It can be extremely cold and in some parts, nearly 100 feet deep.

Still, thrill seekers often take the risk, including a group of teens who didn’t want to be identified.

“We were jumping of the cliffs,” said one teen.

“When you get to the high one it gets scary,” said another.

“I just like the freefall,” said the third teen, “All the pressure just comes off your shoulders.”

It’s not just reservoirs that can be deadly.

Police warn against swimming in any unguarded water and doing it if you’re drunk or high. They believe two boaters who died last month in the Chesapeake Bay were under the influence.

Back in Montgomery County, crews don’t know why Yansen got into trouble. For now, they focus on finding him.

The efforts to find Yansen will resume Monday morning. At this point, crews are calling it a recovery, not a rescue.

Rangers monitor the reservoirs for illegal swimming. They’ve already written dozens of citations in the past few weeks.

Comments (8)
  1. Amber says:

    This is sad. But I don’t understand why swimming in a reservoir is any more dangerous than swimming in a river or even an unguarded ocean for that matter. Anyone?

  2. Leigh Ann Erdman says:

    The article says the temperatures are colder and the depths are deeper. Even if good swimmers cramp in the cold, it is too deep to hit the bottom and push back up

  3. Leigh Ann Erdman says:

    Why do we want people to swim in it anyway? We drink that water!

  4. JK says:

    Often times, reservoirs are the sites of old towns or cities that are purposefully flooded to create that particular body of water. This is the case for Liberty, Pretty Boy and Loch Raven reservoirs.- I’m not sure about Tridelphia. Although the towns were evacauated before flooding began (thereby creating the reservoirs), there is still a lot of debris (i.e. trees, building structures, etc) that remains in those areas that can snag swimmers. Swimming is dangerous in reservoirs because of this.

  5. Jeebus says:

    It is spelled “RESERVOIR”!

  6. JeebusAgain says:

    “’We were jumping of the cliffs,’ said one teen.”


  7. Billiam says:

    Illegal or not, whether it was supervised or not, teens and anyone else for that matter would still be taking risks such as this. Between the colder water and anything below the surface that can’t be seen, there is more to “swimming” in a reservoir than meets the eye. Good swimmers are just that – but environmental issues (anything under the water – debris, structures) can’t be seen.

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