Teenager who fell off raft along Ocoee River has died


The teenager who fell into the Ocoee River while rafting on Sunday has died, according to a GoFundMe Page set up for her medical expenses and an obituary.

That page says her family made the difficult decision to take her off life support because there was too much swelling in her brain.

The obituary says the girl is 15-years-old and is from Leesburg, Florida. The page says she died Monday in Chattanooga, where she was on life support at Erlanger Hospital.

She was with her church youth group when she fell off the raft and into the river. Keith Jenkins with Quest Expeditions, a professional white water rafting company along the Ocoee River, says the girl rafted with their company along the river at about 10 a.m. on Sunday.

We spoke to Richae Thilo who says she saw it happened. Thilo and her husband were in a raft behind the girl.

She says a rafting guide tried throwing a rope to the girl. According to the GoFundMe Page and Thilo, the rope got stuck around her leg and took the teen under the water.

Thilo says her guide went searching for the girl in the water along with several others. Someone finally noticed her red helmet that was still on but it wasn’t easy to get to her. Thilo says somehow her lifejacket slipped off.

“We paddled up to get close to her and every time we got close enough for my husband to grab her, a little drop off would happen so she would get pulled further down in front of us,” said Thilo.

Thilo says it took about five minutes until they finally pulled the girl into her raft. She says she held the girls head while guides performed CPR for about 20 minutes until an ambulance arrived.

TDEC is now investing and will not be releasing new information until they complete their investigation.

According to the obituary, a Celebration of Life will be held on Saturday, July 21 at 1 p.m. at Good News Church in Leesburg, FL.

The church released the following statement:

"Good News is deeply saddened by the tragic accident that took Yari Hernandez’s life. Please keep Yari’s family, friends and her church family in your prayers.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-14

“Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.”"

This marks the fourth drowning along the Ocoee River so far this year. State leaders say this is unusually high.

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