Woman dies while tubing down Catawba River in Rock Hill, police say

A woman died while tubing down the Catawba River on Saturday, but the friend who reported her missing went to someone’s home and “had a couple of beers” before calling police, according to authorities.

Christie Shipley, 44, was identified Monday morning as the drowning victim.

Officers responded around 10:30 p.m. to River Park, where a man said he and Shipley went tubing down the Catawba River and that she was missing, according to a police report. The man told officers he and Shipley had been drinking while they were floating down the river.

Shipley “kept jumping out of her tube and into the river and (the friend) asked her not to because the river is dangerous,” her friend told officers. He said he decided to get out of the water at River Park because it was getting dark, but the victim stayed in the water because she was hot.

The friend said he slipped on the bank while pulling the tubes out of the water, and when he turned around to ask Shipley to get out of the water, “she was gone,” police said. He changed clothes and walked back to The Pump House restaurant, where they had left his truck before going tubing.

When asked by he didn’t call police when he realized his friend was missing, the man said he left his phone in the truck, police said. When asked why he didn’t call police as soon as he got back to the truck, the man said “he was under so much anxiety at that point” that he just called another friend and drove to that friend’s house, “where he had a couple of beers.”

Shipley’s friend led officers to the spot on the river where she went missing. Police say there were no signs of struggle, but that they could see where the man slipped.

Detectives from the Rock Hill Police Department and the York County Sheriff’s Office worked the scene, along with the sheriff’s office dive team and Rock Hill Fire Department.

Shipley’s body was found around 10 a.m. Sunday about 200 yards from the public parking area on Quality Circle, police said.

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Teddy Kulmala: 803-329-4082, @teddy_kulmala