published Monday, August 26th, 2013

Two women who died rafting the Ocoee River identified

  • photo
    Rafters take to the Ocoee River rapids in Polk County in this file photo.
    Photo by Tracey Trumbull /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

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The names of the two women who died while rafting on the Ocoee River this weekend have been released.

The first woman, Marnita McGruder, died Saturday. She was 52 and from Rex, Ga. The second woman, Katherine Tyler Luna, died in a separate incident on Sunday. She was 37 and from Smyrna, Tenn.

According to information from the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, both women were tossed from their rafts after encountering steep drops on the rapid called “Grumpy’s,” which stretches about 100 yards below the dam.

McGruder was among two ejected from the raft. One rider was brought back aboard. McGruder was able to grab onto a rescue rope and hold on while rescuers attempted to tug her to safety, but she lost consciousness just before reaching the shore.

On Sunday, Luna was among several people thrown from the raft in the rapid. While her friends and family were safe, she was not able to reach the riverbank. When rescuers brought her ashore, on-scene CPR was ineffective.

Both women were taken to the Copper Basin Medical Center in Copperhill, Tenn., where they were pronounced dead.

Stay with the Times Free Press for updates on this developing story.

about Shelly Bradbury...

Shelly Bradbury covers police and crime in Chattanooga and Hamilton County for the Times Free Press. She's been with the paper since 2012, working first as an intern and then as a business reporter. She is from Houghton, New York, and graduated from Huntington University in Huntington, Indiana, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and minor in management. Before moving to Tennessee, Shelly previously interned with The Goshen News, The Sandusky Register and The Mint ...

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