Teen in critical condition after near-drowning during rafting trip on Ocoee River

Teen in critical condition after near-drowning during rafting trip on Ocoee River

July 22nd, 2019 by Mark Pace in Breaking News

UPDATE on July 24: The teenager was taken off life support Monday, according to friends and family of the victim. She did not survive.

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Original: A teen was taken to Erlanger Medical Center in critical condition Sunday following a near-drowning during a commercial rafting trip on the Ocoee River.

The 15-year-old girl was on a rafting trip with Quest Expedition Sunday sometime after 10 a.m., according to company president Keith Jenkins.

The company, outfitters association, state and local authorities are still gathering information about what happened. 

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation met with the Ocoee Rivers Outfitters Association Monday afternoon, according to outfitters, but the Tennessee State Parks will lead the investigation per park policy, according to TDEC spokesman Eric Ward. 

"It would be premature to speculate on the specifics of the incident and the scope of the investigation at this time," he wrote via email.

The department recommended the rafting group not answer questions publicly until the investigation is finished and more details are known. 

However, association president Ryan Cooke issued a statement. 

"As president of the Ocoee Rivers Outfitters Association, and on behalf of its members, I would like to extend my sincere sympothy to the family and friends involved in this tragic event," he said via phone. "Please know that our thoughts and prayers will be with everone involved in the days to come as we share your grief."

Jenkins and Cooke both opted to wait until the investigation is completed before commenting further or answering questions. However, they did add the girl was alive but on life-support during the last update they received Monday morning. 

This is a developing story. Stay with the Times Free Press for more. 

Contact Mark Pace at mpace@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6659. Follow him on Twitter @themarkpace and on Facebook at ChattanoogaOutdoorsTFP.


Correction July 25, 2019 at 9:30 a.m.: A family member of the victim confirmed the girl was 15 years old. A friend of the victim and rafting outfitters had previously said the girl was 16. Her age has been updated. This article was also previously updated to correct the spelling of Ocoee Rivers Outfitters Association President Ryan Cooke.


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