Update: Rocky Gorge Drowning Victim Identified; Death Ruled as Accidental

Detectives from the Montgomery County Police Major Crimes Division have been investigating the June 13 death of a young man that occurred at the Rocky Gorge Reservoir located on the Patuxent River.

The victim is identified as Douglas Alex Merino, age 20 from the 500 block of Summit Hall Road in Gaithersburg. An autopsy that was completed in Baltimore by the Chief Medical Examiner’s Office ruled the cause and manner of death to be an accidental drowning.

On June 13, police and fire and rescue personnel were notified by a call to the Montgomery County 911 emergency call center at approximately 4:44 p.m. for a possible drowning.

The initial emergency response was a rescue mission coordinated by Montgomery County Fire and Rescue, Howard County Fire and Rescue, and the Natural Resources Police. At approximately 6:05 p.m., the rescue personnel found and recovered Merino’s body in the water. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The preliminary investigation by Montgomery County police detectives developed that Merino and two friends went to the Rocky Gorge Reservoir to fish. Merino entered the water to swim and was observed struggling in the water before going under. The victim’s friends called 9-1-1.

Public Safety responders offer the following important reminders:

Swimming in lakes, rivers, or other natural bodies of water should only occur at a designated swimming area that is protected by lifeguards.

Always respect signs posted at natural bodies of water prohibiting bathing, wading or swimming. The Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission notes on its website that these are prohibited activities at the Rocky Gorge Reservoir. These activities are also prohibited in the Potomac River at Great Falls Park in Maryland and Virginia.

If you have not seen a sign or a designated swimming area, always assume that any natural body of water is too dangerous for bathing, wading or swimming. Swimming in a natural body of water is different from swimming in a pool. Particularly for a novice swimmer, but even for an experienced swimmer, more skills and energy are required for natural water environments because there are:

  • Fast-moving currents, waves and rapids, even in shallow water
  • Hazards, such as dams, underwater obstacles, or rocks or debris moving on the surface or along the bottom of the water
  • Sudden drop-offs that change water depths
  • Aquatic life, such as vegetation that could entangle feet and arms
  • Conditions can change quickly

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Chief Manger’s Top 10 Do’s and Don’ts During the Holiday Season


Today, Chief Manger joined Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett and other county officials at a holiday safety press event to provide information to help community members “Stay Safe this Holiday Season.

Chief Manger offered these Top 10 do’s and don’ts to keep you and your family safe during the holiday season:

#10 Don’t park in a Disabled Parking spot unless you have a Disabled Parking placard and the placard is issued to you. Even parking there for just a few minutes is illegal and tremendously insensitive for those who really need that spot.

#9 Do put your phone away while you are driving or walking. Distracted driving is the leading cause for collisions.

#8 Don’t have packages delivered to unsecured locations. Packages are stolen off front porches way too often. Have packages delivered to your work address or to a neighbor who is at home.

#7 Do be careful when you are walking in a big parking lot. Pedestrians are struck by cars backing out of parking spaces every day during busy shopping times.

#6 Don’t give money to anyone who calls you on the phone, unless you know who the caller is.  Phone scams spike during the season of giving—make sure you know who you are giving your money to.

#5 Do keep your wallet in your front pocket, or in a closed purse. Keep your purse in front of you at all times. An open purse is an easy target for a thief.

#4 Don’t keep your shopping bags and packages in plain view in your car. Thieves are always on the lookout for valuables in an unattended car.

#3 Do plan ahead when you attend a holiday party. Have a designated driver if you are going to drink. Arrange for a taxi or an Uber. Do remember that WRAP (Washington Regional Alcohol Program) provides their SoberRide service every year at this time. No excuse to drink and drive. You can end up in the hospital, in jail, or in the morgue.

#2 Don’t give your credit-card information to any solicitor who comes to your door or calls you on the phone.  There are too many scammers this time of year. Better safe than sorry.

And the #1 way to keep yourself safe this holiday season:  Be aware of what is going on around you at all times. Whether you are driving, walking, putting merchandise in your car, while you’re shopping, when you are walking alone. Look around, stay in lit areas, shop with a friend, notice your surroundings to keep yourself safe.

On behalf of all of the men and women of the MCPD, we wish you a peaceful holiday.


Community Reminder: Help Reduce Vehicle-Related Thefts


Montgomery County Police DepartmentMCPSealBest
Centralized Auto Theft Section


Auto theft and theft from vehicle remain a high-volume crime in Montgomery County. Residents can prevent and/or reduce the likelihood of becoming a victim of these types of crimes by removing valuables and any spare keys from vehicles and locking vehicles when they are left unattended.

Having your vehicle or property stolen can be inconvenient and costly, and can also lead to additional victimization.  If a suspect is able to obtain personal information from items in a vehicle, you are susceptible to becoming a victim of identity theft. Also, thieves have used stolen vehicles in the commission of other crimes.

The Montgomery County Police Department wants you to lower your risk of becoming a victim of auto theft and theft from vehicle by urging you to follow these safety tips:

  • Keep your vehicle keys with you at all times, and never leave a spare key or valet key in your vehicle. Note: Valet keys can be used to start the vehicle.
  • Close and lock all vehicle windows and doors when leaving vehicle unattended.
  • Remove valuables from the vehicle.
  • Don’t leave a vehicle running if unattended.
  • If your vehicle has a “push button” ignition system, make sure that the vehicle is turned off and locked before you leave it unattended.
  • Park in well-lit and well-traveled areas.
  • Park in a secure garage if possible.
  • Use a car alarm and/or anti-theft device.
  • Use a vehicle locator device.

Many of these vehicle-related crimes occur overnight.  The Montgomery County Police Department reminds residents to immediately call 9-1-1 if they observe any suspicious behavior or activity.

If you have questions relating to vehicle theft in Montgomery County, please call the Montgomery County Police Department-Centralized Auto Theft Section at 240-773-6370.



After Interruption of County’s 9-1-1 Service, County Residents Provided Alternatives if a 9-1-1 Busy Signal is Received

On Sunday, July 10 just after 11 p.m., the County’s 9-1-1 system experienced an interruption of service which caused community members who called the emergency 9-1-1 and non-emergency 301-279-8000 phone lines to receive a busy signal instead of a standard call taker response. The interruption lasted approximately two hours from 11:10 p.m. to 1:09 a.m. During those two hours, alternative plans to receive and dispatch emergency calls were put into operation. Alternative methods to report emergencies were provided to the public through public safety social media and the Alert Montgomery warning system. The County’s 3-1-1 call center was activated early this morning to assist.

Currently, Montgomery County’s 911 and non-emergency 301-279-8000 lines are functioning, but as corrective action is being implemented, there remains a possibility that a caller could receive a busy signal.

In the event of an emergency, any caller who hears a busy signal or is unable to reach a 911 operator, should contact the following:

• Call 3-1-1 or 240-777-0311. Police officers and Fire and Rescue personnel are on duty at the MC311 call center to assist with any emergency calls.

• Or call the closest local fire station or police district station.

Public Safety officials urge all residents and business owners to determine now which Fire and Rescue Station and Police District station are closest in the event of an emergency.

Police Stations:
1st District Rockville Station      240-773-6070
2nd District Bethesda Station    240-773-6700
3rd District Silver Spring            240-773-6800
4th District Wheaton                  240-773-5500
5th District Germantown            240-773-6200
6th District Gaithersburg            240-773-5700

Anyone uncertain as to which police district serves a particular community should see: http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/pol/districts/whatsmydistrict.html

Phone numbers for Fire Station Locations are available at:


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Safety Tips to Prevent Package Theft this Holiday Season

As the holiday season approaches, many people will choose to purchase gifts online and have them delivered to their home. Some shipping companies and online sellers are predicting a more profitable and busier shopping season than last year which means more packages on doorsteps. This also means that there are more opportunities for thieves to steal these deliveries. The Montgomery County Police Department reminds residents of ways to ensure that packages are delivered to them safely and securely:

Choose A Delivery Address Wisely

  • Choose to Have Package Delivered to An Attended Location
    • When you order something online, consider sending the package to a place where you know someone will be available to receive it – your workplace or a friend or neighbor’s home.
  • Choose to Have Package Delivered to Carrier Location
    • Have your deliveries sent to the nearest shipping company center. Many shipping carriers will hold the package for up to five days.
  • Choose In-Store Pick Up
    • Many retailers provide the option of purchasing an item online and picking it up at the nearest retail location.

Know When Your Package Will Be Delivered – Sign Up For Notification Services

  • Many shipment companies offer services to help you track your deliveries by receiving text messages or an e-mail. You can then plan on being home at the time of delivery or ask a trusted friend or neighbor to stop by the delivery location and retrieve the package.
  • After receiving a notification alert and you determine that you won’t be home, many carriers allow you to re-route your shipment to another location or to the carrier’s facility for later pick-up.

Require A Signature

  • Many shipping companies offer a service that requires a signature for a package to be released.

Provide Delivery Instructions

  • Many carriers allow residents to provide instructions on where the deliveries should be placed at the home (side porch, garage door, etc.)

Insure Your Package

  • Consider insuring your package. Contact your chosen mail carrier for coverage policies and requirements.

The Department urges residents who shop online to follow these guidelines to help ensure their packages arrive safely.