Disability Rights Advocate Drowns in Fourth of July Accident

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SACRAMENTO -- Laurie Hoirup knew what it meant to defy the odds.

"Her mother was told at 18 months when she was diagnosed that she wouldn't live to be two," said Laurie's husband Jacob Hoirup.

The quadriplegic was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy as a young child.

She outlived doctors' predictions.

"I have to be gotten up, bathed, dressed, pottied," said Laurie Hoirup in 2015.

FOX40 spoke to her as she was fighting the controversial right-to-die law.

On the Fourth of July, Laurie Hoirup was in the Sacramento River, fighting for her life.

"I couldn't get to her on time," said Jacob Hoirup.

Laurie Hoirup's husband was there as her wheelchair fell off the couple's boat and into the river as they were docking.

"I know she was counting on me to get to her. I couldn't do it," said Jacob Hoirup.

Panicked and frantic, Jacob went down after Hoirup.

Along with family and friends, he used an anchor to hoist Laurie out of the river, doing everything they could to save her life.

But she was gone.

"Just an accident, but it was such a loss. Not only to us, but to obviously the disabled community. We're getting calls from all over the country," said Jacob Hoirup.

The 60-year-old made an impact in Sacramento and beyond, through various positions in disability advocacy groups and through her two books.

Her books aim to help others understand what it means to live with severe disabilities.

Having a family was another big challenge and triumph for Hoirup.

"He told her he wouldn't help her because he thought he was being selfish because she would not be around to raise those children," said Jacob Hoirup.

Jacob says out of the many titles she held during her life, her most important were at home - as a wife, mother and grandmother.

"She changed my life, she was my life for the last 25 years. I have gotten up every morning for her, it was all about what she needed for me, now I need to figure out what I need to get up for," said Jacob Hoirup.

Laurie Hoirup leaves behind two children and four grandchildren.

She was scheduled to make appearances at the state fair starting next week.

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