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MCSO: Woman drowns after tube flips over on Verde River

Posted at 8:10 PM, Jun 08, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-11 01:17:50-04

A 25-year-old woman has died after her tube flipped over while floating down the Verde River Saturday afternoon.

The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office says the incident happened around 3:55 p.m. near the Needle Rock recreation area.

Deputies say Joanna B. Pacheco Sereno and three friends were floating down the river and while her tube was tied to their tubes, she fell off her tube and into the river.

According to witnesses, before she tipped over, Sereno's head hit a large tree branch, causing her to fall off the tube.

The three friends also fell in the water after their tubes got caught up in the branches, but were able to make it to shore safely, according to MCSO.

MCSO Aviation Deputies responded and were able to locate the body around 4:40 p.m., officials say.

Sereno was pronounced deceased at the scene, according to MCSO.

"She always gave me advice and always told me to be strong and I'm trying to be strong for her," said Joanna's sister Arely Milian.

Milian told ABC15, Joanna decided to go tubing with friends during a get-together along the Verde River.

She is now urging everyone to wear a life jacket when out on the water. "My sister is such a fighter," she said. "I know that she did everything she could but she hit her head. Nobody is themselves when they hit their head."

Milian told ABC15 her family is now trying to raise money to help cover the costs of Joanna's funeral.

She remembers her sister as someone who was happy, cared for others and was known for her big smile.

"I know she had a good life and she lived it," Milian said. "I just wish she could be here."

If you would like to help Joanna's family, you can donate here.