Mother found dead at Cummins Falls was assisting with search - WSMV Channel 4

Mother found dead at Cummins Falls was assisting with search for missing woman

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Missy Tufts-Hillian, 45, was found dead on Thursday. (Source: Facebook) Missy Tufts-Hillian, 45, was found dead on Thursday. (Source: Facebook)
Jackson County officials rescued about 40 people after a flash flood rushed through on Wednesday. (WSMV) Jackson County officials rescued about 40 people after a flash flood rushed through on Wednesday. (WSMV)
COOKEVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

Family members say the woman found dead at Cummins Falls on Thursday was there assisting in the search for an elderly woman.

Lisa Michelle Tufts-Hillian, who goes by Missy, had heard about the search for 73-year-old Peggy McDaniel and wanted to help.

Her family urged her to stay home because they thought it was too dangerous.

Search crews found Tufts-Hillian's body around 9 a.m. Thursday. The TBI confirmed her identity Friday morning. An autopsy will be performed by the Medical Examiner's Office to determine her cause of death.

"All we got from the investigator is that she had to lose her footing and perished in the flood waters," said her father, Chuck Tufts, Jr.

Tufts-Hillian's grandmother, Rubi Tufts, said she was the kind of person who always wanted to help others. She paid for strangers' lunch tabs and had been spending a lot of time at the hospital with her uncle.

Tufts said her granddaughter saw the news that McDaniel was missing and felt like she needed to do something. The last time she saw her granddaughter was on Wednesday.

Her said she had been at Cummins Falls less than a week before her death and knew the area well. He said that’s why she felt confident she could help find McDaniel.

“She was always a Good Samaritan,” Tufts said. “That’s a good description, a good description of her.”

Tufts-Hillian was an avid hiker and loved spending time outdoors.

The 45-year-old leaves behind a an 8-year-old son, who had been staying with her ex-husband while she was gone.

Her father said she could be described in three simple words: "loving, caring and giving."

Tufts-Hillian was a former real estate agent who worked in Dayton, TN. Her boss said she left in 2015 to spend more time with her son and that she was an excellent employee.

The search for McDaniel continues. She was with her son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren when they were trapped by high waters at Cummins Falls State Park on Wednesday. 

Jackson County officials rescued about 40 people after a flash flood rushed through. Officials said the water rose about 3 feet in a matter of minutes.

According to the TBI, the investigation into Tufts-Hillian's death is ongoing.

Stay with Channel 4 and WSMV.com for updates on this story.

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