Discovery at Cummins Falls ends search for missing woman

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JACKSON COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – The body of a woman, missing since Wednesday, was recovered Friday night near Cummins Falls in Jackson County.

The Tennessee Highway Patrol has identified her as 73-year old Peggy McDaniel.

The grandmother was with her son’s family and more than 30 other people, when they got trapped by surging flood water at the state park.  She was the only one who did not make it out alive.

MORE: What led to the sudden rise of water at Cummins Falls?

A Tennessee Highway Patrol helicopter pilot spotted McDaniel’s body at 2:12 p.m. Friday. She was a mile and a half downstream from the Falls.

It took rescue workers more than two hours to get to her. They waded through waist-deep water to reach her.

Peggy McDaniel’s family was at the scene as a THP helicopter airlifted her body out of the Blackburn Fork State Scenic River at 4:23 p.m.

The THP pilot who found McDaniel is Lt. Brad Lund, a veteran flyer. Lund helped rescue almost a dozen people, including children swept away by the flooding on Wednesday.

“I saw that it was massive flooding taking place and I’ve never seen that type of flooding there at Cummins Falls,” Lund said. “I did not see the woman get swept away, apparently it happened as I was arriving overhead,”

Related:  Lt. Brad Lund describes the dangerous rescue efforts at Cummins Falls