Elk Grove Woman One of Two Victims Identified Alaskan Rapids Accident

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ELK GROVE — This time last year Cheryl Minnehan was on Safari in Africa.

The trip that just took her life was one of two scheduled for this year in an extremely remote part of Alaska.

“She was a very, very adventurous woman, no fear,” Cheryl’s daughter, Jennifer, told FOX40. “She really, like, always constantly lived life to the fullest. She was very, very active.”

Too upset to speak on camera, a tearful Jennifer Minnehan spoke to FOX40 by phone from Sacramento about her 69-year-old mother.

Cheryl died June 15th when her canoe flipped in the Kongakut River.

“She really was just the epitome of just like the greatest person,” Jennifer said. “Just like the most kindest person.”

According to her daughter, Cheryl had traveled before with Alaska Alpine Adventures — the company that was guiding her trip Wednesday.

Jennifer been told by outfitters that neighbor guides in the lead and follow rafts, nor the others on the trip in inflatable canoes saw what happened with her mom and the other woman sharing her watercraft.

She did learn, but several people once on shore risked their lives trying to bring them to safety.

Jennifer disputes reports released by the rescue group, the North Slope Borough, that she feels make it sound like search teams were on scene quickly and pulled eight people out of the water but were unable to save two.

She acknowledges that the Borough is based four hours away from where the accident occurred, but feels their response and that of an Air National Guard crew that begged off because of a crew member’s food poisoning just wasn’t enough.

“They don’t talk about the timeline, which is really, really an issue for me and this company, because, you know, these efforts should have been handled in a more timely manner,” Jennifer said. “The satellite phone call that called it out was hours, hours, hours before anybody bothered to do any rescue efforts.”

Cheryl worked at the state capitol for the senate rules committee for 33 and a half years before retiring in 2012. That’s when her daughter says she committed to seeing the world.

An official autopsy will be conducted Monday on both women who died in this accident.

Monday, the California senate will adjourn its floor session in Cheryl’s honor.

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