Christmas Heartbreak: 2 Deaths Near Key Bridge Dec. 16

Police investigators at 34th Street and the C&O Canal. | Robert Devaney

A man discovered on the towpath beneath Key Bridge after 5 p.m. and a United States Park Police officer responding to the emergency both died Dec. 16.

U.S. Park Police Sgt. Michael Boehm suffered a seizure 5:30 p.m. on the scene while first responding to the man on the towpath and working with D.C. Fire & EMS personnel. Boehm died of a cardiac arrest, according to Kevin Kornreich of the D.C. Homeland Security & Emergency Management Agency. He was pronounced dead at Georgetown University Hospital. The 45-year-old Boehm had been with the Park Police for 19 years and was an Army veteran.

Two joggers running on the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal’s towpath halted when coming upon the so-called jumper. Prospect Street resident Andy Kline and his female running companion were stunned at the sight and the pool of blood, he said. The woman, who requested anonymity, said she called 9-1-1 at 5:05 p.m.

With Key Bridge at least 35 feet above, the man on towpath was attended by D.C. Fire & EMS personnel and later pronounced dead at Georgetown University Hospital. He has not been identified by police who have also not confirmed whether he jumped or fell from the bridge.

U.S. Park Police were on the scene at 34th and the C&O Canal, next to Francis Scott Key Park, as it is part of the National Park System. Along with the D.C. Fire Department, the Metropolitan Police Department were also on the scene. With the call, “Officer Down,” there were many Park Police cruisers on the streets and a helicopter flying overhead.

The emergency snarled Friday night rush hour traffic. Police stopped M Street traffic for a time, closed Key Bridge at M Street and in Arlington for at least 20 minutes and re-routed eastbound Canal Road traffic to Virginia. Police also blocked the intersections of 34th and 35th Streets at Prospect Street for about 30 minutes. Shortly after 6:30 p.m., fire trucks, ambulances and police cars began to drive off, and roads were opened to regular traffic.

Boehm is the only line-of-duty death this year for the U.S. Park Police, one of the nation’s oldest law enforcement agencies. He is survived by his wife Corrina and son Christopher. As of yet, a memorial service has not been announced.

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