All Night Search Continues But Is Hindered By The Murky Conditions
BY KEN LITTLE
A search continued late this morning for a man who was last seen about 6:15 p.m. Wednesday in the Nolichuckey River at Birds Bridge Road.
The Greeneville Emergency & Rescue Squad searched all night for the 25-year-old Greeneville man, assisted by the Newport Rescue Squad.
Sonar was used overnight in the muddy water, but failed to locate the man, Sheriff Steve Burns said.
Six other rescue squads from neighboring counties were en route to the scene this morning to assist, Burns said.
"We're still dragging," he said. "We have six additional rescue squads on the way. We're checking on the possibility of (using) some other underwater equipment."
The use of divers is one option, but the murky water makes it difficult for them to operate, Burns said.
"There's not a lot of visibility. We're looking at some other search possibilities," he added.
Sheriff's Lt. Wesley Holt said in an initial report that the man was swimming in the river near a sand bar. A man nearby "noticed the victim go under and never resurface," the report said.
Holt said this morning that the man was swimming with family members when they lost sight of him.
"We hope to find him before it storms," he said. "Once it starts raining, it could swell the river and make him harder to find."
Drowning victims are generally located within 100 feet to 150 feet of where they went in the water, Holt said.
"I'm going to make a call for a cadaver dog," he said.
Dragging operations in the river also resumed this morning.
Holt said there is a sand bar in the river above the bridge "and it just drops off into the river, and he went off on this sand bar and just dropped into the river and never resurfaced."
The man is Hispanic and lives within the Greeneville town limits. He could not swim, Holt said.
"We still think he is in the area he went in," Holt said.
Family members of the victim were at the scene this morning as the search continued. Several shed tears and watched the recovery effort in silence.
Sheriff Burns said anyone who swims in the unpredictable Nolichuckey River should exercise caution.
"You have to respect the river. You don't know what's in there," Burns said.
Staff Writer O.J. Early contributed to this report