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Jonesboro woman's body found in Lake Norfork

By ArkansasOnline

This article was published September 1, 2013 at 10:46 a.m.

A Jonesboro woman's body was found in Lake Norfork early Sunday morning, Baxter County sheriff John Montgomery said in a statement.

Police found Penny Jane Hellums, 45, at about 12:30 a.m. in approximately 30-feet of water, Montgomery said.

At about 3:20 p.m. Saturday, police received a call about a woman who had jumped into the water from a pontoon boat while it was still moving, the release states. That woman was Hellums, police said.

The pontoon boat's driver Troy Lairson, 51, of Truman said he noticed Hellums's distress, turned around the boat and jumped into the water. Lairson said he tried to save her, but was unable to do so.

Lairson flagged down a passing boater and asked him to call 911, according to the news release.

Authorities used sonar and underwater cameras to search for Hellums's body, the release states. It appears Hellums had died from drowning and have sent her body to the state crime lab for an autopsy, Montgomery said.

The investigation is ongoing, Montgomery said.

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