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Phone: (423) 209-7000
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Press Release

HCSO SURT, Marine Patrol, & UAS Unit Locate Missing Boater


Hamilton County, TN – Early this morning around 12:00 am, a canoe overturned with three adults near the area of Harrison Bay State Park and Patten Island. Two of the individuals made it to a nearby shore and built a fire to keep warm and began to yell for assistance. Fortunately, around 2:30 am, an angler nearby heard their cries for help and notified emergency personnel.

Personnel with the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office Sheriff’s Underwater Recovery Team (SURT), Marine Patrol Unit, and our Unmanned Aerial Systems Unit responded to assist the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) search for the missing boater. Personnel with the Dallas Bay Volunteer Fire Department, Hamilton County STARS, and Tennessee State Parks also responded to help search for the missing boater.

As part of the search operations, HCSO UAS pilots utilized drones with FLIR technology to search the water and shoreline for the boater while HCSO Marine Patrol personnel located and recovered the canoe. At approximately 8:00 am, public safety divers in the HCSO SURT Team located the body of the missing boater with a remote operated vehicle (ROV) in seven feet of water. SURT Team divers then conducted a dive to retrieve the body.

“While many of our citizens know we conduct law enforcement operations throughout the county, many do not know the HCSO has waterborne and airborne operations which allows us to respond to a variety of incidents in order to help keep our community safe. These specialized units and their subsequent capabilities, combined with state-of-the-art equipment and extensive training, are just another way the Sheriff’s Office is leading the way in law enforcement services and operations in Hamilton County. It is always unfortunate when tragic incidents result in a loss of life, however, I am grateful for our personnel and our partners for their diligent search throughout the night and later recovery efforts this morning for this missing boater,” stated Sheriff Austin Garrett.

Below are some screenshots from drone footage of the search efforts. Some are black and white images where FLIR technology was utilized.

For more information on this incident, please reach out to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA).

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Phone: (423) 209-7000