Disability Advocate Drowns in Wheelchair


By Matt Hamilton | Los Angeles Times

Laurie Hoirup, a disability rights advocate, died when she fell into the Sacramento River and drowned as her husband and family frantically tried to pull her from the deep, dark, murky water.

Hoirup had joined her husband and family for a boat ride on the river, a popular spot to enjoy the 4th of July fireworks. The family’s boat returned to the marina. There, Hoirup was on a ramp connecting the dock and the boat when the boat moved, causing her chair to slip and plunge into the water, Jacob Hoirup said. He quickly grabbed hold of the chair and was pulled in.

“It took me into the bottom,” he said, estimating the water was about 15 feet deep with a muddy floor. “By that time, I got out — I was sucking in water and I couldn’t hold on.”

Jacob Hoirup said he tried to find his wife, but he could not find his wife. An additional 10 people joined in the rescue effort and struggled to bring the chair to the surface. Eventually, they lifted the chair up, unbuckled Laurie Hoirup’s seat belt and were trying to get her out of the water when paramedics arrived.

Paramedics helped lift Laurie Hoirup onto land and began CPR, according to Chris Harvey, a spokesman for the Sacramento Fire Department. An ambulance took her to the hospital, where doctors concluded that nothing more could be done.


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Thanks to Matt Hamilton for writing the article; Los Angeles Times for committing its resources to the article; Google for helping me find the article; and all the people who, directly or indirectly made it possible to include the picture, text, and links in this post.

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