Jonesboro woman's body found in Lake Norfork

Published: Sep. 1, 2013 at 12:09 AM CDT|Updated: Sep. 1, 2013 at 12:17 PM CDT
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(Source: Baxter County Sheriff's Office)
(Source: Baxter County Sheriff's Office)

BAXTER COUNTY, AR (KAIT) – The body of a Jonesboro woman has been recovered in Lake Norfork.

According to a media release from the Baxter County Sheriff's Office, 45-year-old Penny Jane Hellums was found around 12:30 a.m. on Sunday.

Authorities were called out around 3:20 p.m. Saturday afternoon after a man called police saying his girlfriend had fallen from a moving boat. Troy Lairson, 51, of Trumann, told investigators they were on their Pontoon when they crossed an area of the lake and was slowing down when Hellums jumped in the water while the boat was still moving.

Lairson said he could see her in distress, turned around, and tried to save her. But, he was unable to do so.

That's when police say he flagged down another boat and asked them to call 911.

The Baxter County Sheriff's Office, Game & Fish, Corps of Engineers, Salesville Fire Department, Tracy Fire Department, and the Gamaliel Fire Department used sonar and underwater cameras to search for Hellums in an area north of the Quarry Marina.

She was found in approximately 30 feet of water. Police say it appeared she died from an apparent drowning. Her body has been sent to the state crime lab for an autopsy to determine the exact cause of death.

The sheriff's office says the investigation is ongoing.

We will continue to track this story and bring you the latest details as soon as they become available.

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