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Two Women Die Of Electric Shock Drowning In Alabama (Photo)

When Shelly Darling, 34, told her husband she and a friend were off to sunbathe at the family lake house, he thought nothing of it. Little did he know, that would be the last time her saw her alive.

Darling and Elizabeth Whipple, her friend and colleague, headed out to Lake Tuscaloosa in Alabama, where Darling's family had a home along the water. They planned to lay out under the sun and maybe swim before meeting their families for the evening.

When the two didn't show up to dinner and weren't answering their phones, the families headed over to the lake house. Whipple and Darling's belongings were still out on the dock, but the two were nowhere to be found, the Independent Journal Review reported.

The Tuscaloosa County Metro Homicide Unit was called in and began a search of the lake. At 4:30 a.m., divers found Whipple and Darling's bodies.

Investigations are underway, Police Capt. Kip Hart explained. He said foul play is not suspected.

What is currently considered to be a likely cause of death would be electric shock drowning (ESD).

Boating Magazine referred to ESD as a "freshwater phenomenon." Salt water is more conductive that fresh water, meaning that if an electrical current does make its way into the water, it is carried around the person. Alternatively, in fresh water, the current will look for the least resistant path, which is many cases is a human body.

Such an electrical current can paralyze a body, and ultimately cause the victim to drown.

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Hart explained in a press conference that upon preliminary findings, a medical examiner determined electrocution as the cause of death for Whipple and Darling, as there has been proof that electricity was running through the water.

During the search for Whipple and Darling, a diver was shocked, but not hurt seriously.

Alabama recently faced a similar incident where 15-year-old Carmen Johnson died from an ESD in Alabama's Smith Lake in 2016.

Carmen's father, Jimmy Johnson, said he felt an "indescribable" pain when he jumped into the water in an attempt to rescue his daughter.

"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 said.

The two women who lost their lives were reportedly major contributors to their community.

Whipple was the interim director of the domestic violence clinic at the University of Alabama School of Law. Darling was a clinic staff attorney at the same clinic, writes.

"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," Hart said.

Medical reports, including the cause of death, will be released soon.

Sources:, Independent Journal Review, Boating Magazine / Photo credit: Tony Webster/Wikimedia Commons, Doug Low/Twitter via Independent Journal Review

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