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Public Notices

April 20, 2014

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Family Of River Victim
Praises Rescue Efforts

Sun Photo By Sarah Gregory

Volunteers with the Greeneville Emergency & Rescue Squad focus their search in an area of the Nolichucky River near Birds Bridge where trained special response dogs alerted their handlers to the possible location of a body.

Originally published: 2013-06-15 00:11:53
Last modified: 2013-06-15 00:20:18

Additional Images

Call Goes Out

To Bring In More

Personnel Today

To Aid In Search



Family and friends of Nahum Martinez, a Greeneville man believed drowned in the Nolichucky River, remain hopeful that emergency responders will recover his body soon.

Martinez' three sisters, Maria Martinez, Rosa Martinez, and Maria del Carmen Martinez have remained on the scene with emergency personnel since search and recovery efforts began Wednesday evening.

They've been joined by numerous family friends as crews continue to search the water near Birds Bridge, where the 25-year-old Martinez was last seen.


On Friday afternoon, Martinez' sisters spoke to The Greeneville Sun with translation assistance from Cruz Alcantara, a family friend who has remained by the river throughout the search.

The three sisters are Martinez' sole family members in the United States. His parents, three brothers, and a fourth sister reside in Mexico.

Speaking through Alcantara, the sisters told the Sun that Martinez was "happy, outgoing, friendly, loved by everyone" and was a pianist who "dreamed of playing music."

The Sun was also told that Martinez has lived in Greeneville for just over 10 years, since he was 14 years old.


Martinez' family and friends say they are grateful for the dedication of the emergency crews searching the Nolichucky River.

The sisters told the Sun that they "want to thank everyone much for all their hard work. We know they need help and are tired. It is much appreciated."

Martinez' sisters also said that they "haven't lost patience" because they know it is "only a matter of time" before their brother is found.

They say they will remain by the river until he is recovered.


A regional call has been made to bring in emergency personnel today from an area that reaches from Johnson County to Jefferson County to aid in recovery efforts, said Bill Brown, the county's Emergency Management Director.

On Friday, dragging operations continued in the area where Martinez was last seen.

He had just entered the water and was walking on a sandbar near the bridge when, according to witnesses, he disappeared under the water around 6:15 p.m. Wednesday.

Family friends and emergency personnel have confirmed that Martinez did not know how to swim.

Crews worked through Wednesday night with spotlights shining down on the water from the bridge.

On Thursday, responders continued dragging operations, breaking only briefly during a tornado warning that joined a line of severe storms that moved through the area.

Crews stopped after sundown Thursday evening.

Search and rescue operations resumed Friday morning at about 6:30 a.m.


Dr. Roy R. Ferguson, canine search specialist with Tennessee Special Response Team-A, brought two cadaver dogs Friday morning to aid in the search.

Ferguson used one dog in a search along the riverbank.

The other dog was taken out on the water via boat.

Although the dogs were used to search separately, both gave an alert in the same area, just beyond where witnesses reported Martinez went underwater, according to personnel on the scene.

Responders focused their search in that area on Friday.

Assisting the Greeneville Emergency & Rescue Squad in the search Friday were the Grainger County, Bean Station, Jefferson County, and Carter County rescue squads.

Also on the scene have been Brown, the Emergency Management Director, and personnel from the Greeneville/Greene County Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, Greeneville-Greene County Emergency Medical Services, and the Greene County Sheriff's Department.

For more information and stories, see The Greeneville Sun.

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