Cheryl Minnehan was an adventurous woman doing what she loved to do when she died last week during a river excursion on Alaska’s North Slope.
“She was a beautiful woman, loved by all who knew her. I thought she would live to be 100 years or older,” her daughter Jennifer Minnehan said. “She always took care of herself. She was always moving.”
Cheryl Minnehan, 69, of Elk Grove retired as a staff member with the California State Senate Rules Committee in 2012, her daughter said. She took her first adventure trip with Alaska Alpine Adventures the year she retired.
She departed for her most recent excursion June 8. There were 10 people on the trip, eight clients and two guides.
“She was very close with the people that occupied this trip,” Jennifer Minnehan said.
Contrary to earlier news reports, those on the trip were traveling on the Kongakut River in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in two-person inflatable kayaks, not a 10-person raft, she said.
Jennifer Minnehan said Karen Todd, 67, of Sparks, Nev., her mother’s companion in the kayak, was an experienced kayaker, and each was wearing a dry suit and life jacket.
The two women died June 15 when their canoe flipped as they paddled through rapids, according to Alaska Alpine Adventures.
Jennifer Minnehan said the guides and other people on the trip attempted to rescue the the women but were unsuccessful. Their bodies were recovered the following day during a search by the North Slope Borough Search and Rescue and the Alaska Air National Guard.
In addition to her daughter, Jennifer, of Plumas Lake, Cheryl Minnehan is survived by her son, Scott Minnehan, of Elk Grove, and a granddaughter.
Jennifer Minnehan said the family plans a celebration of her mother’s life in August. A GoFundMe account, at www.gofundme.com/cherylminnehan, has been established for those wishing to make donations to assist the family.