World-class kayaker dies in accident on North Carolina river

Maria Noakes, 50, of Bryson City, died while paddling the Cheoah River in Graham County about 3 p.m. Saturday. (Photo credit: WLOS)

SWAIN COUNTY, N.C. — An expert kayaker died in a weekend accident on a North Carolina river, according to WLOS.

Maria Noakes, 50, died while paddling the Cheoah River in Graham County around 3 p.m. Saturday.

Noakes was a world champion kayaker, wife and mother of two sons who attend school in Asheville.

Authorities told WLOS her boat was pinned against the shore and she was found downstream.

“She was like the glue of our paddling community and so supportive and so important to all of us that we’re all … it’s going to take us a while,” said Juliet Kastorff, who runs Endless River Adventures in the Nantahala Gorge.

The accident is under review.