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Park Services Emphasize Safety For The Holiday Weekend

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By Natalie Neumann

After a mother and daughter drowned in the Potomac River on Memorial Day this year, the Potomac River Safety Task Force is taking extra precautions to prevent any river accidents this holiday weekend.

In the past 15 months the Potomac River has claimed the lives of 8 people, all whom did not speak English as their first language.

Kevin Brandt is superintendent of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park. He says more than 50 sets of signs in English, Spanish and Vietnamese are now posted along the Potomac River Gorge from Great Falls Park to the Memorial Bridge in D.C.

"We're adding rotating tri-lingual banners at multiple locations using non-traditional sign formats to attract more attention," says Brandt.

The signs warn of the dangers of the river.

Maryland's Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett says the water may seem calm, but beneath the surface the undertow and currents are not.

"What seems like a harmless way to cool off is really an invitation to death," says Leggett.

Police will be writing citations throughout the holiday weekend for swimming or wading in the river, which is illegal.

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