Hot Springs woman drowns in French Broad River

By The Associated Press | Posted - Jun. 24, 2014 at 1:51 p.m.

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HOT SPRINGS, N.C. (AP) — A Hot Springs woman described as developmentally disabled fell out of an inner tube on the French Broad River and drowned despite a friend's efforts to save her, authorities said.

Delores Johnson, 45, and a friend started out on an inner tube in Spring Creek, which flows into the French Broad, Madison County Chief Deputy Michael Garrison said Tuesday. She fell out of the inner tube in the much rougher river and drowned Monday, he said.

Johnson was developmentally disabled and lived in a family care home in town, said Garrison, adding that she couldn't swim and wasn't wearing a life jacket. The friend who accompanied her also was developmentally disabled and was unable to pull Johnson to safety, Garrison said.

"They were hanging out down there and enjoying the creek," he said. "Unfortunately, once they got in the river, it's a different dynamic than Spring Creek. It's definitely less forgiving."

Johnson was well-known in Hot Springs, where she often walked through the town, he said. "She was well-liked. It's just a tragedy," Garrison said.

Hot Springs resident Linda Carroll said her young daughter enjoyed stopping to talk with Johnson. "She was part of the heart of the town, kind of, everybody knew her," Carroll said.

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