FT. MORGAN, Ala. (CNN Newsource) – A Tennessee woman who was attempting to rescue swimmers in distress at an Alabama beach struggled in the rough water herself and died.
She was part of a human chain that formed in an attempt to get to the swimmers caught in the rip current, but that ended up being a deadly mistake.
Karen Graham, 54, of Memphis, was the first person in the human chain.
“Somebody started hollering for help, and Karen took off running to help,” Laura Carrigan said.
An air ambulance flew Graham to the hospital, but it was too late.
“She swallowed water directly in to her lungs,” Carrigan said. “The doctor told her husband she actually died of a heart attack from salt build up.”
Ft. Morgan Fire Chief Michael Ludvigsen says while admirable, he highly discourages people from using the human chain technique to save a swimmer in trouble.
“Don’t get me wrong there have been times when human chains have been successful,” Ludvigsen said. “It’s extremely dangerous. You’re putting so many more people in danger.”
Graham’s mother says it was just in her nature to not back away from problems, but instead run towards them and help in any way she could.
“I’m hurt, of course, that she’s gone but I know she worked really hard to save those girls lives,” Carrigan said.
Graham was a mother of two.