CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — First responders in Chesterfield County are mourning the loss of a respected member of the community who died in what the Virginia Search & Rescue Dog Association (VRSDA) called a “catastrophic accident.”

Chesterfield firefighter Alicia Monahan died on Saturday, June 26 while teaching a swift water rescue course on the Nantahala River in Macon County, North Carolina. She was 41 years old.

Responders from neighboring Swain County were the first to the scene, according to WLOS. Monahan was taken to Swain Community Hospital in Bryson City.

“Alicia was a wonderful, caring person . . . a beautiful, bright light went out today and our hearts are broken,” said the association in a Facebook post.

Monahan was a member of VRSDA and was involved in water rescue and recovery operations with the Chesterfield Fire Department. In March, Monahan was part of the team that recovered the body of 19-year-old Andrew Zilius, which was found in Swift Creek Reservoir.

Chesterfield firefighter Alicia Monahan at Swift Creek Reservior, where the body of 19-year-old Andrew Zilius was found.

In 2019, Monahan was recognized with a Valor Award from the Retail Merchants Association.

Chesterfield firefighter Alicia Monahan (right) was honored with a Valor Award by the Retail Merchants Association.

According to Facebook post from Chesterfield Fire, Monahan spent 11 years with the department. She leaves behind a fiancé and two sons.