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Caught in whirlpool, man drowns

BOLTON, Vt. -- A Burlington man has drowned in a popular swimming hole after disappearing in a whirlpool.

The accident happened Saturday afternoon as Josh Egan, 19, was swimming in an area of steep gorges known as the Bolton Potholes just off Bolton Valley Road east of Bolton. Joiner Brook falls in a series of pools and waterfalls to form the potholes.

Assistant Fire Chief Wayne Deslaurier of Bolton said Egan jumped into the fiercest of the pools and disappeared.

"That's where people typically get in trouble," he said. He said the pool is about 20 feet in diameter and 25 feet deep.

Witnesses said about 20 people were swimming near the potholes on the warm summer afternoon. Egan, whose parents live in Richmond, was there with his girlfriend. He jumped into the pool from a low rock at about 4:40 p.m., according to those who saw the accident.

"Within five minutes of us getting here, we saw him climb the rock and jump in," said Christie Smith, a student at the University of Vermont who was swimming in the brook with friends. "His girlfriend didn't even see him."

Smith said several of her friends tried to reach Egan, who called for help, but he had disappeared. She said she called 911 about two minutes after he disappeared. "He was in a whirlpool," she said. "One of our friends said he'd never seen it so high."

Egan's girlfriend became frantic when she realized that Egan had not reappeared, Smith said.

Another University of Vermont student, Bill Pettersen, said Egan "looked like he knew what he was doing. But he didn't come out of the chute," he said, referring to the steep channel at the side of the whirlpool where the water rushes out. "I saw his head pop out of the water a minute later," Pettersen said, "and then I couldn't see him."

He and his friends climbed up toward the whirlpool, he said, and tried to extend a lifeline by tying towels together. By that time, he said, Egan could not be seen.

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