Woman who fell from river bluff dies

Thursday, July 28, 2005

The Sikeston woman fell at Shote Hole, one of several popular and dangerous diving points.

VAN BUREN, Mo. -- A 25-year-old Sikeston, Mo., woman died Wednesday, four days after slipping and falling down a bluff into the Current River, the Missouri State Water Patrol reported.

The accident happened at about 4 p.m. Saturday. Mary Yarbrough, 25, of Sikeston, died Wednesday from neck injuries related to the fall.

Yarbrough was tubing with her parents and friends when she decided to climb the bluff over a place called the "Shote Hole," one of several popular and dangerous diving points on the river. It was the third accident at the Shote Hole site in the last two weeks, the water patrol said.

"She was climbing a bluff" that was about 20 feet high, but "she didn't make it to the top," said water patrolman Terry Richardson. "As she was climbing, she grabbed a hold of a limb or bush and it broke with her, which allowed her to plummet down the face of the bluff, bouncing on rocks. She landed in the edge of the water."

When Yarbrough hit the water, there were immediately several boaters around her to assist, Richardson said.

"They put her in a boat and started down the river to the Van Buren launch ramp," he said. "En route to there, someone had a cell phone and had already called for the ambulance."

Richardson said he and another patrolman, Cole Chatman, were in the Bass Rock area, another diving spot.

"When they came to us, we knew that someone was hurt," Richardson said. "We knew [the person] was laying in the bottom of the boat and due to the extent of the injury, we knew an ambulance was en route so we escorted them down the river. The crowd was thick."

Richardson said Yarbrough was "coherent" and that emergency personnel worked on her as she was transported to a helicopter pad.

She was taken to a Cape Girardeau hospital then flown to St. Louis University Hospital.

Earnest Story, Yarbrough's father, told the Daily American Republic newspaper that he warned his daughter not to jump.

"Unfortunately, she's 25 and she watched several hundred people jump off without any problem," Story explained. "She watched that many and so did I and for me to tell her no and her mother to discourage her, she just made up her mind that it was something she wanted to do and she took off."

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