White water enthusiast survives in land-locked Dallas

SMU student Laura Sullivan rafts in Wyoming in 2012 with her brother (Photo via Facebook).

Breaking legs, losing teeth, and head trauma. SMU student Laura Sullivan has seen it all on her white water rafting excursions around the country.

The junior political science and communications major grew up rafting on the river near her grandparents’ lake house in Maryland early in life, though they would only raft the easiest sections. She began helping others raft at age 14.

The worst thing that ever happened was my mom almost killed my brother by accidently pinning him under a raft,” she said. She said that incident sticks out more than other close calls because it hit so close to home.

Sullivan said she has rafted the Snake River; Youghiogheny River; Ohiopyle; Pennsylvania Cheat River; Albright River; Deep Creek Lake; Maryland Pigeon River; and rivers in Gatlinburg, TN. But Adventure Sport International in Morgantown, WV is Sullivan’s favorite.

“It’s actually a manmade river, and they can control how strong the rapids are, and since it’s manmade, it’s actually the safest so you can get away with a lot more crazy stuff than if you’re actually out in nature,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan frequents a white water rafting outfitter near her lake house at home in the summers three or four times a week.

“Laura is a ‘yes-woman.’ She’s adventurous and loves to try new things. She’s unexpected and willing to try anything,” said junior accounting major Charlie Weber, a close friend of Sullivan’s.

When she was 13-years-old on a Class V river, a 50-year-old woman bounced off of the raft, hit her head on a rock, and went unconscious.

“Without thinking, I jumped out of the raft, glasses, clothes, cellphone and all and swam out to her and swam her through the rest of the rapid. Looking back, it was super stupid, but it’s hard for me to do that when someone is in immediate danger,” Sullivan said.

It is difficult to pursue such a hobby in a land-locked city like Dallas, but Sullivan said she knew what she was getting into when she decided to come to SMU.

“I wish Dallas was more outdoorsy, but I also chose to go to school in a city, so I had an idea of what I was signing up for,” Sullivan said.

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