ROMNEY, W.Va. — Two West Virginia anglers have quite a fishing story to tell after a trip on the South Branch of the Potomac went horribly wrong.

Police with the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources were called to the scene a few hundred yards south of the Hampshire-Hardy County line. Two anglers, Michael Devericks, 47, of Mount Clare, W.Va., and John Johnson, 47, of Pasadena, Md. were stranded on a rock in the middle of the river surrounded by rushing rapids.

The men went into the river when their 14-foot aluminum bass boat struck a rock and began to take on water. The impact caused the boat to turn sideways where it hit another rock and capsized.

Crews from the Maryland state police assisted in the rescue with a Medevac helicopter using a rescue basket. The helicopter plucked the two men from the rock and delivered them to the nearby Sycamore Bridge downstream.

Neither of the men was injured. Natural Resources police said the men had life jackets in the boat, but were not wearing them and when the craft capsized the life jackets washed downstream with their other gear. The two told investigators the water was too deep and swift to risk swimming to shore.

bubble graphic


bubble graphic


  • TwF

    Any one under the age of thirteen is required to wear a PFD

  • Gail L. McInturff

    Why do people have to be so judgemental? Like they don't make
    Mistakes!So before you go and criticize
    someone why don't you thank the good lord above that they are safe and that it wasn't your ass out there !!!!! GOOD JOB GUYS !!!!

  • Cynthia


  • Cynthia

    A wonderful rescue! Thank God! Now Can we please be kind. There is no place for hate in this nearly tragic accident. No one deserves to suffer or die as punishment for not having a vest. Shame on you! You are a Hateful nasty person!

  • Gary

    Since the idiots didn't have their safety vests on they should be cited and have to pay the cost of the helicopter rescue.

    • Troy

      In the state of West Virginia it's not required by law to wear a life vest. It is only required to have them in the boat, as they clearly did. But way to not be judgmental! Dumbass.

  • Jonus Grumby

    Gotta wonder about the decision to have floatation vests in the boat but not wear them. Glad everyone was OK. Kudos to the rescue team. You folks are life savers...literally!

  • Brian

    Successful rescue! No lives lost. Good job to all involved.

  • fighting46th

    I don't know where they got this pic but I have the video. and yes I wish reporters would call the local fire departments and EMS volunteers and get the whole story. A friend of mine took he pic you see here I beleive.. I was a fun day for the firemen...

    • Dick Johnson

      fighting46th, please post your video on YouTube, THANK YOU! Dick Johnson, Catonsville, MD USA

    • Tom

      Chopper looks to be facing upstream. Was this accident on one of the ledges before the train bridge but not the big one right before???

      • Iwasthere

        This was downstream from the railroad bridge at Sycamore at the first rapid. Its usually not even there when the river is low but it was high that day.

  • Dick Johnson

    Maryland State Police Aviation Command water rescue with a Dauphin medevac helicopter was with luck not with professional skills. By the way of examples: a) hovering approximately 20' above the victims causing a backwash, the victims were lucky that they did not get blowing off the rock b) failed to hoist down a water rescuer, victims rescuing themselves into the basket c) using a basket instead of a Cinch Collar.

    • jim

      Dick, You dont know what you are talking about. Get back in your recliner and chill out. better yet get a job to keep your self busy...

    • Mike

      Any aircraft will have rotor wash beneath it during a hover. Having a victim rescue themselves when able is much safer than placing someone on a rock (usually a fairly fixed object unlike a car) just to tell them to sit down in a basket. The cinch is better utilized for bringing the victim inside the aircraft, not leaving them on the hoist to drop them at an LZ. No major rush because the water isn't rising so better to leave them in a more stable basket in a seated position rather than drag them inside and try to secure them.

  • Tom

    LOVE LOVE LOVE the Trough!! Can't wait to hit it in a couple months!!!

  • jim

    I was under the impression that you are required to wear life jackets in any boat under 16 feet

    • eagle thompson

      only have to have then in the boat iam sure it will change

  • Iron Mike

    Big shout out to the swift water rescue crew we met during our shore lunch. You guys rock! Thanks for all you do.

  • Iron Mike

    My buddies and I went down the South Branch this weekend and witnessed these guys stuck on the rock and the helicopters doing the rescue. First off the water was high so there was more risk than usual, but these two made a series of bad decisions that is hard to call anything but stupid. 1. Never put a flat bottom john boat in white water 2. Know the water - they went right straight into a shallow drop off that's treacherous even in low water. 3. Stay alert - it was a very easy obstacle to miss if they were keeping tabs on what lies ahead. 4. Wear the life jacket -enough said 5. The spot they were in was moving fast but truthfully they could have got in (with jacket) and hit a wide shallow area not 100 feet down where they could have easily went to shore. Bad planning, bad decisions equals a bad outcome. There were many boats on the water last Saturday but this was the only emergency.

    • Dick Johnson

      Iron Mike: "wide shallow area 100 feet down.." "Bad planning, bad decisions....". It appears the ground rescuers are uneducated in swiftwater/flood rescues? Calling on the Maryland State Police Aviation Command (MSPAC) Trooper 4 Dauphin medevac helicopter appears to be another overkill. Helicopter swiftwater rescues call for a skill crew of 3 or 4. Pilot, trained swiftwater rescuer and hoist operator with the appropriate swiftwater rescue gear and equipment. Dick Johnson, Catonsville, MD USA

    • Tom

      Dam that level looks FUN!!

  • TheChief

    A mention of the numerous volunteer fire and EMS folks that had to take the time out of their day to go fish these guys out of the water would have been nice too.

  • rescueman

    This actually took place in Moorefield/Hardy County, not Romney/Hampshire County.

    • Chris Lawrence

      Thanks for that, I couldn't get an exact location other than "near the county line". Didn't mean to slight the good folks in Moorefield.

      • Bob Mayhew

        Chris, that location is actually McNeill, WV (after the McNeill Rangers family) and was once a post office on the B&O spur which is now the South Branch Valley Railroad (owned and operated by the State of West Virginia). It is much closer to Moorefield than Romney. The waters are treacherous in the Spring and during periods of high water. Like others on this board, I love the Trough. Been down that chute more times than I can count.