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Fairfield woman who died in rafting accident being called a “hero” by friends and family

Emily Fournier made a big impact on community theater.
Published: Jul. 14, 2020 at 12:15 AM EDT
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FAIRFIELD, Maine (WABI) - A Fairfield woman died Saturday morning in a whitewater rafting accident.

Her family tells us she saved a life before losing her own.

33-year-old Emily Fournier of Fairfield and her family were whitewater rafting with the Magic Falls Rafting company on the Kennebec River in The Forks.

Two people were thrown from a nearby raft during the trip. One managed to get back in.

“There was one young boy that was floating away and couldn’t make it, and our boat was coming up on him,” says Joe Rowden, Emily’s Father.

Emily managed to grab onto the boy's life vest just as a wave rocked the boat, sending her overboard.

"While she was going out of the boat, she threw him in."

Fournier was unresponsive when she was pulled back into the raft.

Lyn Rowden, Emily's mother, was reluctant to hear the details of her daughter's death, but the game warden said she needed to know. "He told me...your daughter died a hero."

Emily Fournier was a founder and executive director of the Recycled Shakespeare Company, a grassroots acting company with a focus on inclusivity and accessibility. Her family says she put her all into it.”

"She took the dead books that we read in high school and said, 'I don't get it'... and she made them alive."

Internationally recognized for her work, Fournier had recently been invited to the Globe Theatre to present a paper before COVID-19 canceled those plans.

Her husband, Josh Fournier, said she was passionate about helping others find themselves. "If you dreamed of doing something with theater, she was going to make that happen."

Her father recalls how she even got him involved, miming a character while someone else provided the voice. "I cannot memorize Shakespeare to save my life, but she made it possible to be onstage."

Ryan Toothaker is president of the board for the Recycled Shakespeare Company and an old friend of Emily's. "You always hear when someone passes away that they had this amazing spark. And that was true of Emily, but that wasn't her real gift. She found the spark in everyone else."

Shana Page and her entire family joined the company after encouragement from Emily.

"She was the person that had confidence in other peoples' abilities before they even had those abilities."

Katie Howes says Emily introduced her to acting and the sense of family in the company.

"She wanted to make sure everyone felt included and everyone felt capable, and she was a master of doing that."

Her family says there's no way to fully describe her, much less replace her, but her impact on those she knew is everlasting.

“This is what I’ve come to in the past few days,” says Lyn. “That Emily is love... Love is always here. Love never leaves. Love abides. And Emily is love.”

You can find a link here to a fundraiser for her memorial.

Copyright 2020 WABI. All rights reserved.

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