A Hendersonville native and 2007 graduate of Hendersonville High School drowned Friday night after she was dragged out to sea by a rip tide in Bordeaux, France.
Chelle Warner, 22, was swimming with friends when the accident happened.
"She was swimming off the coast of Bordeaux when the rip tide carried them out," said her father, Randy Warner. "Her friends were able to get back but our daughter was not."
The family plans a funeral service at 2 p.m. Saturday at First United Methodist Church in Hendersonville, where the family attends church.
Warner credited Jeff Miller, the owner of Miller's Dry Cleaning, with helping navigate international channels after the family received word of the young woman's death. Through contacts at U.S. Sen. Richard Burr's office, Miller was able to help the family get information and ensure that Chelle's remains would be returned to the U.S.
"Through Sen. Burr's efforts we've gotten a representative of the consulate's office in Bordeaux to investigate," Warner said. "There was no foul play or drugs or alcohol. It was an accidental drowning, just a freak thing."
Besides her father, who was a chemical engineer with DuPont and is now a software consultant, Chelle is survived by her mother, Nancy, who taught for 33 years at Bruce Drysdale and Hendersonville elementary schools; and her brother Jason, who is now studying for a doctorate at Harvard University, and his fiancée, Meghan Reutzel of Long Island, N.Y.
At Hendersonville High School, Chelle went by the name Shelly, short for Michelle. In college she shortened it to Chelle, pronounced Shell, "because it sounded more French," her dad said. A 2011 graduate of N.C. State University She was teaching English in France and planned to return in the fall to study for a master's degree after helping her mom with her brother's wedding this summer. Chelle would have turned 23 on June 24.
Active in theater, track and volleyball, Chelle was known as a lively and fun friend.
"She was a lovely young lady, very intelligent, very vibrant," said Debbie Rouse, a family friend and fellow First Methodist Church member.
High school friends filled Chelle's FaceBook page with condolences and memories.
"You were such a bright light and helped to bring joy to so many people's lives," Bailey Hunter, a volleyball star at HHS who went on to play at Georgia Tech. "Although volleyball was fun, track was where my best memories with you were. My first meet, I was so nervous and clueless and you took me under your wing and just told me to run."
Many friends recalled Chelle's smile and bright spirit.
"No matter how bad of a day I was having, when I would pass you in the halls you would always give me a smile and I couldn't help but give you one back," Faith Logan wrote.
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