CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — First responders rush to emergencies, but they don’t always make it back home. That’s why loved ones are remembering the firefighter who died while teaching a water training course in North Carolina.

“Alicia died doing something that she loved,” said Sunlen Serfaty, a friend of Alicia Monahan’s for 30 years.

Monahan, 41, was teaching a swift water training course in the Nantahala River when she became unresponsive.

“I didn’t believe it. I could not have imagined that anything like that could have happened to her,” Serfaty said.

Monahan was taken out of the river and was driven to Swain Community Hospital on the afternoon of Saturday, June 25.

She was a firefighter and paramedic who wore many hats. Among those roles, she was a swift water rescue instructor, a search and rescue K9 handler and a mother to two sons.

Chesterfield County Fire Chief Loy Senter said there are few words to describe this sudden loss.

“She touched so many people,” he said. “She will be sorely missed.”

A series of sad, heart-wrenching moments followed Serfaty’s favorite memories of Monahan.

“I just remember it was an outside summer concert. We were all so carefree and dancing around,” she said.

Senter said Monahan was on track to become a leader within the department.

“She was a warm person. She was very devoted to her career and her community. She set the bar for a lot of our new recruits coming through the door,” he said.

Heather Andre, another friend of hers, shared the same sentiments. She added that Monahan never hesitated to help someone out.

“One of the things she said was, ‘We don’t always get to know their whole story’ I think everyone deserves to know how beautiful and strong she really was,” Andre said.

Though Monahan is gone, Serfaty said the memories will never fade.

“Alicia is a larger-than-life person. She’s so strong and so in control of every situation,” she said.

The cause of Monahan’s death is still unknown.

The Nantahala National Forest will investigate the incident, according to Macon County Emergency Services.