Body of missing UA student found in river - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Body of missing UA student found in river

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Allysa Huffstutler. Source: Facebook Allysa Huffstutler. Source: Facebook
A pilot in a helicopter spotted Huffstutler's body from the air around 10:30 a.m. Friday. Source: WBRC video A pilot in a helicopter spotted Huffstutler's body from the air around 10:30 a.m. Friday. Source: WBRC video
Huffstutler's body was recovered on the Black Warrior River about a mile and a half from the spot where her raft capsized and she disappeared. Source: WBRC video Huffstutler's body was recovered on the Black Warrior River about a mile and a half from the spot where her raft capsized and she disappeared. Source: WBRC video
BLOUNT COUNTY, AL (WBRC) -

The body of Allysa Huffstutler has been found in the Black Warrior River about a mile from where she went missing on Wednesday.

Blount County Sheriff Loyd Arrington confirmed that Huffstutler's body was discovered in the water about a mile and a half downstream from where her raft capsized.

Rescuers and volunteers have been searching since Wednesday night for the 19-year-old University of Alabama student who disappeared while rafting with a group of six others.

Friends said her raft overturned after they went through the Double Trouble rapids in the Locust Fork of the Black Warrior River, where she was last seen. That area is an especially dangerous spot, where the water travels extremely fast and flows both up and downstream.

The rafts were described as the type of rafting tubes often used at amusement parks that have handles on the sides. Each of the seven people rafting together had their own raft.

Huffstutler's friends told police that she hit a large rock with an undercurrent in the Double Trouble spot, which caused her raft and several of the others' to capsize. Everyone else was able to get out, and when they realized Huffstutler wasn't with them, one person from the group hiked an hour to get help.

Crews began searching the river around 6 p.m. Wednesday and continued to canvas the area by land and water until Friday at 10:30 a.m., when a pilot in a State Trooper helicopter spotted Huffstutler's body after only searching for around five minutes.

Sheriff Arrington said the water levels in the river had dropped "significantly" overnight, allowing better visibility in the area.

The water had lowered so much on Friday that rescue workers were able to walk on some parts of the river where they had needed rafts the day before.

Arrington said Huffstutler's body was found in the water on some rocks. Authorities do not believe she was wearing a life vest.

A rescue team from Hoover retrieved her body, which is on the way to a local funeral home. Eventually, her body will be sent to Huntsville for an autopsy to determine the exact cause of death.

Sheriff Arrington called Huffstutler's death a terrible accident and said it appears no alcohol was involved in the rafting trip.

A Blount County EMA worker on the site said there is usually a drowning death every other year in this part of the river.

More than 100 people were involved in the search, including dive teams from Hoover, Trussville and Cullman, and dozens of volunteers.

Huffstutler was a junior at the University of Alabama and a member of the AOII sorority. She graduated from Oneonta High School and was a Blountsville native.

The University of Alabama issued this statement in response to Huffstutler's death:

The University of Alabama family extends its thoughts and prayers to Allysa's family and friends during this sad and difficult time.  She was a valued member of the campus community, and we will miss her.

-Dr. Mark Nelson, Vice President of Student Affairs

Copyright 2013 WBRC. All rights reserved.

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