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June 28, 1999

An 11-year-old girl drowned Sunday afternoon after falling off a raft floating down the Salt River, authorities said.

Deputy Deborah Moyer of the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office said Lisa Ann Marley of Phoenix was picnicking with her family on the Salt River at an area known as Garbage Dump.

She was on a raft with an unidentified man about 1:40 p.m. when she fell off the raft and into the 73-degree water. Other tubers pulled the girl out of the water downstream and performed CPR.

She was flown to Desert Samaritan Medical Center in Mesa, where she was pronounced dead.

Marley was a non-swimmer, said Moyer, so it is unclear why she was on the raft in an area where water is as deep as 21 feet.

"Apparently they thought she would be safe on the raft," Moyer said.

An investigation is pending.

Moyer said many parts of the river, especially close to the shore, are only waist-deep, making the river seem tame. But there are deep spots, whirlpools and rapids that can be hazardous even for experienced, strong swimmers.

"A lot of non-swimmers, especially adults, will see people on inner tubes, see areas where it's just waist-deep, and think it's safe," she said. "You even get strong, grown men who know how to swim. They try to cross the river and get into trouble."

There have been three drownings this year on the Salt, one on the Verde River and two at Saguaro Lake, she said.

Reproduced with permission from:
The Arizona Republic
Byline: By Lisa Gonderinger
©Copyright 1999 Arizona Republic

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