A man drowned in the swift waters of the Collins River on Sunday morning after being knocked from his kayak by a low-hanging tree.
The body of the victim, Ernest Lee Wade, 59, of Warren County was found six hours after he was seen by his kayaking partner. He slipped below the water after being knocked off his kayak.
According to the TWRA report, Wade was floating with Treyton Gritzinger. They entered the water at Shellsford parking area around 8 a.m. and were about 30 minutes into their float when the overhanging tree pushed the victim from his sit-atop kayak.
“He was flipped and struggled to swim,” TWRA officer Pete Geesling said in his report. “He was not wearing a personal floatation device and neither man had one with them during the outing.”
Unable to find his friend after he slipped below the surface, the witness called 911 from a house near the river. A day-long search resulted with them finding Wade in about eight feet of water around 3:45 p.m.
“Because of recent rains, water levels were elevated two or three feet above normal,” Geesling said. “Swift-moving currents and murky water made recovery efforts more difficult.”
Geesling said it is important to always wear a floatation device anytime you are in the water.
“It is always difficult to see the loss of a life,” he said. “We can’t stress enough the importance of wearing a personal flotation device and checking conditions before heading out. Our thoughts are with the Wade family.”
There were four paddle-sport related deaths last year in Tennessee.