Body of missing boater found after crash in Tennessee River
FLORENCE, Ala. (WAFF) - The Colbert County coroner has confirmed that the body of a 63-year-old man who was lost in a boat crash on Jan. 28 has been found.
Authorities told WAFF’s newspaper partner, The Times Daily, that a 63-year-old man and his 13-year-old grandson were fishing when their boat crashed into a bridge around 11:20 a.m. on Jan. 28.
Officials say that the crash caused the boat to capsize in the Tennessee River near McFarland Park in Florence.
The grandson was able to make it to shore.
Emergency personnel says the gates to the Wilson Dam were open at the time of the crash but were closed for the search. The gates remained closed until 5 p.m. Saturday when officials called off the search due to darkness.
“It’s a large search area,” ALEA’s Robert Ping said. There’s no way that we can how far he’s drifted. We’re trying to look from the start of the bridge and really look at the 200 yards below the bridge. That’s a priority, and we’ve got units searching even further down below that.”
”We’re looking with sonar,” Ping said. “We’re doing a grid pattern search along the river bottom. If we find anything that looks promising, we’ll mark it and look at it from several angles. TVA has been very cooperative if we’ve needed them to shut down the current. If we can take a closer look with cameras, or possibly divers, then we’ll do that.”
Debris from the crashed boat was discovered nearly four miles away from where the crash occurred about an hour after the report of the crash.
Emergency crews returned to search the area on Jan. 29 around 7 a.m. but did not find the grandfather.
“The aviation unit still has some clouds where it’s located, but hopefully the sun’s going to burn some of that off and we’ll get our aviation unit up and flying the shoreline,” Ping said. “They can go a lot further distance and cover land that we can’t. Hopefully, this push today with all these agencies, we’ll have a successful day of recovery.”
Troopers with the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency’s (ALEA) Marine Patrol Division, ALEA’s Aviation Unit, the Florence Dive Team, Colbert County Dive Team, Florence Fire, Florence Police Department, Muscle Shoals Police Department, Muscle Shoals Fire, Colbert County EMA, Lauderdale County EMA, Colbert County Sheriff’s Office, Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Office and more all assisted in the search effort.
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