WCU grad drowns during tubing trip

A river tubing trip on a sunny day ended in tragedy last week when a recent Western Carolina University grad drowned.

Allen Stanley Brisson, 22, of Cullowhee was tubing with friends on the Tuckasegee River on June 3. According to the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, the group had been drinking when Brisson fell from his inner tube and disappeared into the water on a stretch of rapids below Dillsboro.

Brisson’s friends searched for him to no avail before one of them ran to a nearby vacant house and called 911.

Rescuers responded to the scene and began a search that lasted late into the evening. The rescue team, which included volunteers from the nearby rafting outfitters Dillsboro River Company and Tuckaseigee Outfitters, erected emergency nets along the river to aid in the search, but the effort was suspended just prior to 11 p.m. due to poor visibility.

Search and rescue efforts resumed at 8 a.m. on June 4 with the help of air support and a swift water rescue team. Brisson’s body was discovered around noon submerged in a deep pool.

A release from the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department said Brisson’s body would be submitted for an autopsy and the investigation into the events leading up to drowning is ongoing.

Brisson, originally from Fayetteville, graduated from WCU in May with a bachelor’s degree in management.

Sam Miller, WCU’s vice chancellor for student affairs, said the university’s thoughts were with Brisson’s family.

“The loss of a life so young and so full of potential is tragic. Our thoughts and prayers are with the members of Allen’s family, and with his friends and classmates,” Miller said.

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