Hot Springs woman drowns in French Broad River
Sabian Warren, Asheville Citizen-Times
June 24, 2014
HOT SPRINGS – A woman drowned Monday in the French Broad River after falling out of an inner tube. Delores Johnson, 45, of Hot Springs, had started out tubing with a male friend in Spring Creek, which flows through Hot Springs before emptying into the French Broad, Madison County Sheriff’s Office chief deputy Michael Garrison said. The two wound up in the much rougher river, and Johnson fell out of the inner tube, Garrison said. Her friend attempted to rescue her but couldn’t pull her to safety. “They were hanging out down there and enjoying the creek,” Garrison said. “Unfortunately, once they got in the river, it’s a different dynamic than Spring Creek. It’s definitely less forgiving.”
Johnson could not swim and was not wearing a life jacket, he said. The incident was reported shortly before 2 p.m. Johnson’s body was found a quarter of a mile downstream about an hour later, Garrison said. Johnson, a Madison County native who was developmentally disabled, was well-known in Hot Springs, he said. She was often seen walking in town and was very friendly. The man she was tubing with is also developmentally disabled, Garrison said. “She was well-liked. It’s just a tragedy,” Garrison said. He said the accident was a reminder of the importance of wearing a life jacket on the river, which has strong currents and deep water.