Shortly before noon Saturday, Polk County officials received a call to the Ocoee River where a woman reportedly fell into the water and could not be revived after being retrieved. On Sunday, officials responded once again where a Smyrna woman died in the same area while rafting the river’s whitewater.
According to deputy Matt Price, the names of the victims have not been released.
Officials with Polk County said autopsies are being conducted on both victims.
Regarding Sunday’s death on the river, Price said the woman was believed to be 35 to 40 years old, and was on a commercial rafting trip with family and friends.
“The raft became stuck in the first rapid (populary known as Grumpy’s) below the raft launch site, and some of the parties in the raft eventually fell overboard. All but the victim made it safely to shore. The victim was taken to the bank by a group of kayakers, where CPR was immediately started by a Tennessee State Parks ranger. Raft guides, park rangers and other bystanders moved the victim up the riverbank ... to the roadway. CPR was continued until EMS arrived,” Price said Sunday.
Both Saturday’s and Sunday’s incidents were commercially led rafting tours of the Class 3 and 4 rapids of the Ocoee.
Saturday’s fatality occurred in the same area of rapids.
The victim Saturday was believed to be 45 to 50 years old and from the Atlanta area.
Rafting guides pulled the woman from the water immediately and began performing CPR. Within minutes of a 911 call, first responders with the state parks, Polk County Sheriff’s Office and Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency were on the scene aiding the victim. Medical crews arrived within four minutes and CPR continued, according to Price.
The woman was transported to Copper Basin Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead sometime later.
Price said early investigation revealed that just after launching their raft, at the first drop (the Grumpy’s rapids area), the victim and another female fell overboard. The party was able to get the other female back into the raft, and the victim was thrown a rescue rope bag just downstream. The woman was able to grab the rope, and was reportedly conscious at that time. The woman then reportedly lost consciousness just before reaching shore, Price noted.
“It appears that all the raft guides involved in both incidents over the weekend had/have done everything they could to effect rescues of all parties involved,” Price said.
Tennessee State Parks and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency are investigating both incidents.