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Tragedy on Alabama River

Bystanders on shore form search team

By Katie Nichols

The Selma Times Journal

A fun Sunday on the Alabama River ended tragically when a Selma woman drowned.

Dallas County Coroner Alan Dailey pronounced Shana Cole, 41, dead at 3:34 p.m., about an hour after she disappeared from an inner tube pulled by a boat in the deep curve south of the area known as Little Miami near County Road 946.

“She passed by us and spoke earlier,” said Judy Twilley, a bystander and friend. “She was fine then.”

Joe Sanders, Cole’s boyfriend, drove the boat that pulled the inner tube. He looked back at one point to check on Cole, but she had disappeared.

About 15-20 people on shore formed a line and began searching for her. Someone called 9-1-1.

“They immediately went looking for her and flagged down two Sea-Doos,” Dailey said. “They located her underwater after 30 minutes.”

Chris Griffin had one of the Sea-Doo jet skis. He found Cole’s body.

Once on the riverbank, someone tried to resuscitate her.

A rescue boat arrived at the scene about 25 minutes later to help try to save Cole’s life. During the attempt, rescue workers moved the woman by boat to the Little Miami bank for easier access to an ambulance and sophisticated life-saving equipment. But all efforts failed.

Dailey said he thought when Cole fell off the inner tube she became disoriented because of a 6-to-10-foot drop-off under the water’s surface. The sudden drop tends to disorient even the most experienced swimmers, he said.

The ambulance transported Cole’s body to Bloch Park and turned it over to representatives of Lawrence Brown-Service Funeral Home.