Longtime Secret Service Agent Dies in Kayaking Accident

Zachary Stieber
By Zachary Stieber
July 1, 2019USshare
Longtime Secret Service Agent Dies in Kayaking Accident
A U.S. Secret Service agent in a file photo. (Stefani Reynolds/Getty Images)

A woman who died in a kayaking accident in Maryland over the weekend was identified as a Secret Service agent.

Stephanie Hancock, 40, a special agent, drowned in Annapolis on June 30 after her kayak overturned.

Hancock was serving on the Presidential Protective Detail for the Secret Service, according to WJZ. She was off-duty when the accident happened.

“Our condolences, as well as our thoughts and prayers, are with the family of Special Agent Hancock,” the Secret Service said in a statement obtained by Fox 5, noting that she had been with the agency since 2007.

Neither Hancock nor a man who she was with, who has not been named, were wearing life jackets, officials said.

It took about six hours for Hancock’s body to be found after the kayak overturned around 3:30 p.m. near Horn Point.

The man was spotted and rescued.

The Maryland Natural Resources Police told the Washington Post that another kayaker had tried helping Hancock but was unsuccessful.

According to Patch, the Coast Guard and other agencies rescued two kayakers out of the water but wasn’t able to find Hancock in time.

Three other people went missing in two different incidents on the water, the police said.

In one incident, a police officer found a boat adrift late June 30 in Curtis Bay. Allen Van Dyke, a 43-year-old boat mechanic, was test driving the boat but was not on board.

Two other people went missing from Stoney Creek on Saturday, police told the Post. The two had been crabbing.

Officials also rescued six kayakers after they got stuck in Baltimore County during stormy weather.

Kayaking Safety Tips

People who go kayaking can take precautions, experts said.

Mary Bohling of the Michigan State University Extension said in a blog post that people should check the weather before going kayaking. People can check with the National Weather Service or other providers of local marine weather.

Kayakers are encouraged to find at least one partner; going alone adds to prospective danger.

And kayakers should make a plan before they go, including estimated time of arrival back from kayaking, and give the plan to a loved one onshore.

Bohling also recommended kayakers use safety gear, including life preservers, protective footwear, and clothing that can get wet.

The REI company said that kayakers should plan trips that fall within their capabilities.

“Put your skills to the test in a class, not on an unguided trip. You and your friends don’t have to be experts, but everyone must be a strong enough paddler to handle the return distance with ease. For sit-in kayaks, everyone in the group must know how to do a wet exit and at least one person must know how to do a self rescue and T-rescue. When you’re a newer paddler, it’s smart to minimize possible complications when you choose a destination,” it said.

Attributes new kayakers should look for include calm, flat water; small bodies of water; and places that are not popular with power boats.

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