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Pastor’s wife known as ‘saint’ drowns while rafting with church group on Nolichucky River

Pastor’s wife known as ‘saint’ drowns while rafting with church group on Nolichucky River

The late Louvella Yelton Arrowood, of Bakersville, North Carolina. | Facebook/Scott Jenkins

Louvella Arrowood, the beloved wife of a North Carolina pastor, considered by some who knew her to be “a saint,” drowned Saturday while rafting with a church group along the Nolichucky River. She was 63.

Matt Moses, CEO of USA Raft, said in a statement that Arrowood, whose husband is the Rev. Jimmy Arrowood, was on the 2:30 p.m. rafting trip with 14 guests and three guides when the raft she was traveling in was flipped by a rapid.

The trip started at Poplar, North Carolina, and was set to run through Class 3-4 whitewater for 8 miles to the takeout at Erwin, Tennessee.

“At the beginning of a substantial rapid, a raft flipped. Two other rafts were positioned downstream as part of standard safety procedures and immediately began recovering guests. All guests were recovered by the other rafts quickly,” Moses said in his statement.

Sgt. Gale Wilson with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, which investigates all accidents on state waterways, told the Citizen Times that the pastor’s wife was under water for about 5 to 8 minutes before she was pulled from the river.

“We are heartbroken to report that she passed away,” he said.

Arrowood was pulled from the river into a raft and found to be unresponsive. USA Raft guides as well as guests provided CPR until emergency services arrived but they could not revive her.

“At this point, we are doing everything we can to support the family and our staff members that were both on the river that day or involved in the efforts from our headquarters in Erwin. What happened Saturday was a tragedy for our guests, our guides and community. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of the deceased as well as everyone that was on the trip or otherwise involved,” Moses said.

Arrowood was a nurse serving Blue Ridge Regional Hospital and several private practices over the years and she loved spending time with her grandchildren, according to an obituary. It also noted that while she attended Odoms Chapel Free Will Baptist Church she was a member of Middle District Free Will Baptist Church where Pastor Scott Jenkins remembered her fondly.

“RIP Louvella. You will be forever loved and greatly missed. You left a wonderful legacy. We are comforted in the truth that we will be reunited in God’s glorious heaven one day,” Jenkins, noted in a statement on Facebook.

Smithville, Texas, resident Hattie Belle Crader, who says Arrowood’s husband previously served as her pastor, remembered her as a “saint.”

“Rest in Heaven Louvella, hug my daddy for me. Rev. Jimmy Arrowood was my pastor growing up, the man who baptized me in that little creek….His lovely wife Louvella was in my opinion, a saint. She taught me so much more than she ever knew, about life, God, and love. I'll never forget it... I know she's touched a lot of lives, she will be very missed. Sending up prayers for the family and all who are heartbroken by this loss,” Crader said in a statement on Facebook.

Along with her husband, Arrowood is survived by her daughter, Christy Cain Adam; son, Aaron Arrowood; sisters Angie Hopson and Elenia Yelton; brother, Eugene Yelton, and several grandchildren.

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