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Police Investigate Electrocution In Drowning Case

Authorities are investigating the possibility that two women who died in Lake Tuscaloosa in Alabama suffered from electrocution.

Shelly Darling, 34, was reportedly sunbathing with friend Elizabeth Whipple, 41, on April 14, but the two women's families became concerned when they didn't come back for dinner, Independent Journal Review reports. Their bodies were found in the lake early on April 15 after the two were reported missing.

While the exact cause of death has not been determined, authorities are reportedly investigating the possibility that Darling and Whipple died from electric shock drowning.

During a press conference, Capt. Kip Hart of the Tuscaloosa County Metro Homicide Unit said investigators do not suspect foul play, according to Alabama Media Group.

"We know there was electricity going through at least part of the pier," said Hart. "We're waiting on full report from medical examiner to determine exactly what happened."

The women worked at the University of Alabama's School of Law; Whipple was the interim director of the domestic violence clinic, while Darlin worked as a clinic staff attorney.

"It's a tragic situation because you have two young ladies who were very involved in the community," said Hart. "Both of these ladies obviously touched a lot of people's lives. I just feel for both families right now and hopefully we'll be able to bring them some answers as to why this happened."

The deaths of Whipple and Darling bear similarities to the electric shock drowning death of 15-year-old Carmen Johnson from Priceville, Alabama, the Independent Journal Review reports.

Johnson had jumped into a lake with a friend when her father lowered a metal ladder into the water for the girls to climb out. The ladder reportedly introduced an electrical current into the water, leading to Johnson's death.

Speaking about the recent deaths of Whipple and Darling, Johnson's family offered their sympathies to the families of the victims.

Our lives have been forever changed. We miss our Carmen so much. Our goal now is to help prevent this from happening to others. So it was so sad to see this happen again and for two other families to go through what we have and are going through. Our prayers go out to them.

The Johnsons also gave advice for preventing electrical shock drowning.

"...If people start feeling like something is going on or they could be getting electrocuted to swim away from the dock not to the dock and make sure someone cuts the power off," they said.

Sources: Independent Journal Review (2), Alabama Media Group / Photo Credit: John Buie/Flickr

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