Gary Aldridge, 07-14-98


The Associated Press, ADN 07/16/98

The body of former Alabama state Sen. Gary Aldridge was recovered late Tuesday from a river where he drowned in a weekend rafting accident.

The body was found about 8:45 p.m. by a park ranger who had flown over the river to check water levels, National Park Service spokeswoman Marsha Karle said.

"They didn't really expect to find anything. But as they were flying over the river, they saw his body up on the shore of a little island in the river," Karle said.

Aldridge, 48, was one of nine people on a guided raft trip of American Creek in Katmai National Park. The group, traveling in three rafts, ran into trouble near the end of the trip where two downed trees were lying across the river.

"He was seen holding onto a tree and then was swept under water by the strong current," Karle said. "From our experience dealing with the water, there is no way that he could have survived."

Karle said the other eight rafters, including former Alabama state Sen. Frank Ellis, made it to the bank with no injuries.

Aldridge's secretary, Charlotte Theroit, told The Decatur Daily of Decatur, Ala., that Aldridge's wife left Wednesday for Alaska so she could accompany the body home.