NEWS: Columbia student Ella Mills drowns in Potomac River
A Columbia University student died in an apparent drowning when her kayak flipped over on the Potomac River and a piece of her gear got caught on a rock, according to officials.
Ella Mills, a junior who just arrived at the prestigious New York City university from Ireland as part of an exchange program, was on a trip to Washington, DC, with the school’s whitewater kayaking club Sunday when her face became submerged in the water as bystanders attempted to rescue her, according to reports.
Mills’ kayak overturned while she was on the river with about two dozen classmates, witnesses reportedly said.
After she flipped and came out of her kayak, a piece of her gear got jammed between rocks, which kept her face-down in the water, local whitewater kayaker Tim Atwell said, according to NPR.
He and others quickly swam out in an attempt to rescue her.
“We got to her within seconds. But her head was submerged under water,” he told the outlet. “It was a futile effort. She was really stuck.”
The Montgomery County Fire & Rescue Service reportedly said Mills “presumably drowned,” before first responders arrived.
Mills was originally from Dublin and just landed in the Big Apple earlier this month as part of the college’s dual BA program with Trinity College Dublin, School of General Studies Dean Lisa Rosen-Metsch told students in an email, according to Bwog, a student-run news website.
“Ella had a love for learning, was intellectually curious, and passionate about literature — eager to soak in new ways of looking at literature and viewing the world as a literary scholar,” Rosen-Metsch said.
She is survived by her parents, brother and sister.