POTOMAC, Md. (WJZ) — A competitive kayaker killed. A highly experienced paddler loses her life in the Potomac River as professional kayakers hit the river frantically trying to save her life.

Meghan McCorkell has more on this tragedy.

Twenty-three-year-old Shannon Christy was in town for the Potomac River Festival. She was practicing for a kayak race when she went under and never came back up.

It was on the final rapid, the most dangerous section of the Great Falls where Christy disappeared underwater. The experienced boater was on a practice run with a friend. She went down the waterfall first. When the friend reached the bottom, he spotted Christy out of her boat swimming before she was swept down the class four rapids. Moments later, her life jacket and helmet floated to the surface. Professional kayakers jumped into the water to save her.

“There was absolutely nothing that the kayakers that were on the scene when she went into that channel could have done to save her. It was our community’s best effort to just get her out of the river using everything we had at our disposal,” said Jason Beakes.

Two hours later, Christy’s body was found pinned underwater. The loss was shocking to those on the river.

“I didn’t even know her but it’s hard when the kayaking community loses someone,” said Todd Henry.

Christy worked for Confluence Watersports in South Carolina and recently appeared on a magazine cover.

Christy died doing what she loved. On her blog, she called kayaking “the best thing anyone could ever be a part of.”

Race organizers have canceled the Great Falls Race Saturday and will instead hold a memorial service for Christy. That service will take place at 11 a.m. on the Virginia side of Great Falls Park.


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