MYSTERY surrounds the death of a firefighter and mother of two, who died while teaching a water rescue training course.
Alicia Monahan, 41, had served Chesterfield County Fire & EMS for over 11 years and recently helped recover a body from a reservoir in March.
On June 25, Monahan was training a group of fire and EMS workers in swift water rescue techniques on the Nantahala River in North Carolina.
According to Chesterfield Fire, Monahan was familiar with the area and taught multiple classes across North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia while off-duty.
Those in the training course said that at one point, it seemed Monahan was having issues in the water.
Chesterfield Fire said that Monahan had entered the river around 3pm wearing full protective equipment.
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For reasons still unknown, Monahan became unresponsive.
Chesterfield Fire said she was carried downstream by currents before being removed from the water by individuals who performed CPR.
Douglas Hardy told 8News about his split decision to try and save the woman’s life.
“I didn’t know if it was a boy or girl at first,” he said.
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“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.”
Hardy said he performed CPR on Monahan after pulling her onto his boat.
“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.
Despite these efforts, Monahan was transported to a Bryson City area hospital, where she was pronounced dead, Chesterfield Fire said.
“The positive impact she made on her family and friends, our organization, our community and everyone she encountered will live on forever. We miss you Alicia!” the agency said in a statement.
“In recent years she actively prepared for greater leadership responsibilities, completing a long-term acting lieutenant assignment at the Bon Air Fire Station, and was a candidate for promotion to the rank of lieutenant.”
Monahan is survived by her fiancé and two sons.
Chesterfield County Fire & EMS Chief Loy Center went on to say that her untimely passing was weighing heavy on many hearts.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to her fiancé, her two sons, extended family, and many friends,” Center said.
“Her coworkers continue to support the needs of the family while at the same time providing uninterrupted emergency services to the community Alicia loved and where she grew up and lived.
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“While she will always be remembered for her devotion to duty and unparalleled service to others, her legacy will be the inspiration she provided to countless young women considering careers in the fire service or the pursuit of causes bigger than themselves.”
How Monahan died so suddenly is still a mystery and an investigation by the Nantahala National Forest is currently underway, the Macon County Emergency Services Director said.