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Man drowns at Rock Island
TWRA boat.jpg
TWRA officers, shown near Cotten’s Marina on Sunday, checked over 1,600 registered vessels and paddle craft over the four-day holiday weekend.

A drowning Monday at Rock Island State Park marred a busy Fourth of July weekend on local waterways.

The drowning victim was a 21-year-old Cookeville resident, according to Rock Island State Park manager Damon Graham. The male was reportedly visiting the state park for the day.

“It happened at the old TVA gorge just up from the powerhouse,” said Graham, who said he needed clearance from legal counsel to release the man’s name. “According to witnesses, he was swimming, started to struggle, and went under.”

Graham said the accident happened late Monday afternoon and his body was found just before dark Monday night.

“We used an underwater camera for about an hour to try and locate him, but with no luck,” said Graham. “A dive team was finally able to find him.”

Graham said dive teams from White and Putnam counties were called to the scene. Also assisting were park rangers, TWRA officers, and members of the Warren County and White County sheriff’s departments.

“We really stress that all swimmers use a floatation device, even if they know how to swim, because you never know when something unexpected may happen” said Graham. “I see this far too often in this job.”

The drowning was an unfortunate end to an otherwise safe, yet hectic, holiday weekend on the water.

“We are exhausted,” said Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency officer Pete Geesling, who said the organization had a heavy presence on local rivers and lakes. “We had a sunken boat and a few broken down boats, but no injuries we know of that were boating-related.”

During the four-day holiday weekend from Friday, July 2 to Monday, July 5, local TWRA officers worked Center Hill Lake, Great Falls Lake, Caney Fork River, Collins River and Barren Fork River. They logged 400 man hours.

There were 234 registered vessels checked and 1,387 paddle craft checked with two BUI arrests made, Geesling said.

“There was a lot of activity, but it was down from last year when no one could travel due to COVID so everyone bought a boat,” said Geesling. “I don’t think there was as much traffic as last year.”