‘I prayed so hard for her to come back’: Girlfriend remembers victim of Old Hickory Lake boating accident


HENDERSONVILLE, Tenn (WKRN) —Wednesday was Rachel Brockman’s one year anniversary with her girlfriend, Madison Shipley. Instead of celebrating, Brockman talked to News 2 about Shipley’s tragic Labor Day weekend death.

On Sunday Bockman and Shipley’s friends spent the day boating on Old Hickory Lake. They were there to celebrate Shipley’s 23rd birthday, which had been the day before.

The birthday party later turned to a search party, after Shipley hit her head somewhere on the boat and fell into the water.

“I was on the boat with her, I saw it happen,” said Brockman. “I jumped in after her to try and get her, and I’m not the best swimmer. So I couldn’t get there in time.”

Brockman says other friends and boaters also jumped in to help but were unsuccessful.

Approximately six hours later, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency said emergency crews pulled Shipley’s body from the water.

“I just wanted her back. I prayed so hard for her to come back,” Brockman said.

Shipley was new to the Nashville area. Brockman says she recently moved in with her after graduating from Ball State University and was preparing to start a nursing job at Saint Thomas Midtown Hospital.

“She was so smart. She was so incredibly smart and talented at whatever she put her mind to. She was always so present in the moment, and if she wasn’t it was just because she was so worried everybody else wasn’t having as much fun as she was,” Brockman said.

And even in her final moments, Brockman says Shipley was living her life to the fullest.

“One of the last things we were talking about though was how much fun she did have that weekend over her birthday and how she was happy everybody was able to come and be surrounded by so many people she loved,” said Brockman. “She will be missed immensely so much it can’t even be expressed through words.”

Shipley’s funeral service will be held this weekend in her home state of Indiana.

According to TWRA, there have been 24 boating fatalities in the Volunteer state so far this year.

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