Monday, May 30, 2005

Search continues for missing teen after boating accident By Cheryl Tatum Editor HENDERSONVILLE - Search crews were back on the waters of Old Hickory Lake Sunday looking for a missing teen who fell from a boat Thursday evening. As of press time, rescue workers from six to 10 agencies who were scouring Old Hickory Lake had no success in their efforts to find the 18-year-old Hendersonville girl. Her identity is being withheld by officials from the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) until their investigation is complete. Bob Galoppi, with the Hendersonville Fire Department, said the search will resume first thing Monday morning and continue all day, unless predicted thunderstorms occur. TWRA officer Darren Rider said the teen, who graduated from Hendersonville High School on May 20, was one of three teens riding on the bow of a 23-foot cabin motor boat when a combination of wake and making a turn caused them to fall into the water. Only two of the three surfaced. Search efforts for the missing teen began Thursday around 6 p.m. and continued until after midnight resuming Friday morning. The search has been continuous during daylight hours ever since. Rider said there were seven teens in the boat Thursday when the accident occurred. Currently there have been no charges filed in the incident and Rider said there was no indication of alcohol being involved. However, blood tests were taken, as is required by state law whenever there is an accident with a fatality involved. Results of that blood work are not yet available. Friends and family members spent the weekend keeping vigil first at Drakes Creek Marina, the command center for the the search effort, and later at nearby Saunders Ferry Park at the water’s edge. For them, it has been a weekend of waiting, said Hendersonville Fire Department Chaplin Dennis Allen who has been acting as a liaison between the family and officials. Allen said Sunday family members and friends were drawing support from each other, adding one group of teens has been writing handwritten thank you cards for the volunteers involved in the search. Galoppi said there have been numerous volunteers and career public safety personnel involved in the search. On Sunday four cadaver dogs were being used, with two handlers and dogs having just arrived from Evansville, Ind. The search has been difficult, Galoppi said because it is covering such a large area. “There are a lot of different depths and we don’t have a specific area pinpointed,” he said. Galoppi added the search will continue until the missing teen is found. The intensive search, if needed, could continue up to five days. After that time in case like this efforts are usually scaled back to surface searches, he said. “We will keep looking until we find her or we run out of manpower,” Galoppi said. He added support from the community has been important for the family, friends and rescue workers. The Red Cross has also been on hand to counsel with family and friends and providing food for the searchers.

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