Tragedy struck Saturday, September 12 in the gorge section of the Nolichucky River.Louvella Arrowood, age 63 of Buladean apparently drowned after the raft she was riding in flipped. USA Raft Adventure Resort Nolichucky Gorge trip began at Poplar at approximately 3:30pm. Water levels had been noted to have risen due to thunderstorms that had occurred up stream in the Mount Mitchell area. The trip was 3 boats with 14 customers. Guides noticed that water levels were increasing from the time they put in. As the boats entered Quarter Mile the sweep boat flipped at Second Drop. The two downstream boats had floating safeties set and began to recover people that were in the sweep boat. A 63 year old female, identified as Louvella Arrowood was noted to have recirculated in Hungry Jack close to Ivan rock where she was flushed out and again recirculated in the 6th drop and was finally able to be recovered. She was taken below Murphy’s Ledge where CPR and resuscitation efforts by guide staff and four private boaters that were off duty staff that came upon the situation. Runners were sent out on the tracks; cell service was found and 911 was contacted. Members from Bradshaw Volunteer Fire Department, and Mitchell County EMS responded to Poplar. Unicoi County EMS and Southside Volunteer Fire Department responded from Chestoa on the train tracks. CSX was contacted and all train traffic was stopped. The patient was evacuated up to the train tracks and out the Poplar access with resuscitation efforts continued throughout the incident. Arrowood was pronounced dead upon arrival at Poplar.
Mitchell County Sheriff Donald Street has onfirmed the group was from Odom’s Chapel Freewill Baptist Church in Bakersville. The Mitchell County Sherriff’s Office notified Officer William Boone with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission Law Enforcement Division who will be the lead investigator for this incident.