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State News

June 20, 2013

Searchers look for woman missing on Warrior River

LOCUST FORK, Ala. —

Dozens of law officers, rescue squad members and volunteers on Thursday searched for a University of Alabama student who disappeared during a tubing trip with friends on a river in Blount County.

Alyssa Huffstutler, 19, of Blountsville, went missing on the Locust Fork branch of the Warrior River after she got separated from her inner tube on a rough stretch of water about 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, said Sheriff Loyd Arrington.

Huffstutler was described by an uncle, Larry Staton, as a certified scuba diver and trained lifeguard.

"We're holding out hope that she's OK," Staton said.

Friends posted messages on Huffstutler's Facebook page saying they were praying for her safety, and a vigil was planned for the football stadium at Oneonta High School.

The Blount County Sheriff's Department said all its personnel were on the scene along with volunteers and rescuers from other agencies. An estimated 100 searchers were looking for Huffstutler from the air using a Department of Public Safety helicopter, along the banks and in the water.

County emergency management director Max Armstrong said the missing woman was with about a half-dozen other people who got into the river with inflatable rafts and tubes between Blountsville and King's Bend.

"They hit a rough stretch, a rough section of the river," Armstrong said. He said Huffstutler and one other person were separated from their floating devices. The second person, a male, was able to climb out and call for help.

Arrington said floating down the river on inner tubes is a popular activity.

"It's unbelievable," he said. "When the river is up, people come from all over."

The search site was located about 45 miles northeast of Birmingham.

 

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