Collierville woman drowns during beach rescue

MOBILE, Ala. — A Collierville mother drowned trying to save two women caught in rip currents.

It happened in Fort Morgan, Alabama, near Gulf Shores. People tried to form a human chain to save two women.

During that rescue, 20 people were swept into the Gulf.

“There’s a huge hole in my heart,” said Julie Bassett, drowning victim’s friend. “It’s very broken. In all of our hearts.”

Bassett and Pattie Gardner broke down in tears as they remembered their best friend Karen Graham.

“It was good samaritans all around,” Gardner said. “Karen lost her life for it, but everyone was a part of it. She was heading out to help those people, and that is Karen 100 percent.”

During an annual girls’ trip to Fort Morgan, Alabama, her friends said Graham died a hero.

She and about 20 others formed a human chain to rescue two women caught in a rip current in the ocean.

“It got up to my neck,” Bassett said. “I could feel a little sand under my toes. Then there was nothing. I turned around and said pull us in.”

Gardner said both women who originally needed to be rescued were saved, but the chain broke and a wave swept about a dozen people including Graham out to sea.

“I don’t know what happened from her looking at me I’m so tired to coming off the beach limp,” Gardner said.

Graham leaves behind family and friends who describe her as the glue who held everything together.

“Everything we ever did it was because of Karen,” Bassett said. “She organized everything. And she loved her friends more than anything.”

Graham may be gone, but her friends said her caring, giving, loving legacy will live on.

“You can’t necessarily donate organs when you die like that, but they donated her cornea and tissue. She was able to help over 100 people,” Bassett said.

The family has set up a gofundme to help with medical expenses. If you would like to donate the link below.