CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — One man has said he attempted to rescue the Chesterfield County firefighter who died in North Carolina on Saturday.
Alicia Monahan, 41, died while teaching a swift water training course on the Nantahala River in Macon County, North Carolina.
Warren Cabe, the Macon County Emergency Services Director, said those in the training noticed Monahan was having a problem in the water. He said the first call came in at around 2:36 p.m.
Douglas Hardy, who works with the Paddle Inn Rafting Company, said he remembers the split-second decision he made to try and save Monahan.
“I didn’t know if it was a boy or girl at first,” he said. “I just saw a helmet floating and face down in the water and it was like I knew I only had like a matter of seconds to get to her.”
He said he grabbed a paddle and a boat from someone else and went out on the water without any equipment.
“I basically went against every rule that I probably should’ve been doing,” he said. “Obviously, you have to have a life jacket on. You obviously have to have all these other things but when you see a body and it’s face down in the water, you don’t think about those things and you just go.”
Hardy said he pulled Monahan onto his boat and then tried to give her CPR.
“Started doing the chest compressions and checking her out. I couldn’t see anything wrong, but she wasn’t breathing and I could see her pupils were dilated,” he said.
Shortly after, first responders from Nantahala Fire and Rescue and Macon County EMS arrived on the scene and took Monahan to Swain Community Hospital.
Monahan served with the Chesterfield County Fire and EMS Department for 11 years.
During her time with the department, she helped in a recovery mission on the Swift Creek Reservoir in March.
Monahan is survived by a fiancée and two sons.
Though details are still limited at this time, the incident is still weighing heavy on the minds of community members like Hardy.
“It’s emotionally, you know, very depressing. It is extremely depressing. It’s been really difficult to sleep,” he said.
Warren Cabe said the Nantahala National Forest will investigate the incident.