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Ohio woman drowns while kayaking in North Carolina river

CHEROKEE, N.C. (AP) — An Ohio woman drowned while kayaking Thursday in the Oconaluftee River along North Carolina’s western border, according to Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials.

Park officials said companions of the kayaker notified park rangers around 2:15 p.m. that she disappeared underwater and didn’t resurface, news outlets reported. Officials identified the kayaker as Megan Thompson, 34, of Cleveland Heights, Ohio.

Witnesses said Thompson floated over swift rapids before being pinned between a fallen tree and the river bank. It took emergency responders about 40 minutes to free Thompson and bring her to shore, where she was pronounced dead, park officials said.

This was the first fatality in the park this year and the 61st drowning on record, park officials said.

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