UPDATESearch efforts continue for missing Grasshopper Creek boater - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

UPDATE: Search efforts continue for missing Grasshopper Creek boater

Story by Megan Boatwright

Eyewitness News Reporter

SODDY-DAISY (WRCB)-- Officials say Saturday's boating accident at Chickamauga Lake happened when a barge collided with a small fishing boat. The accident has likely cost two men their lives. Forty-five-year-old Tim Stidle's body was recovered when first responders arrived on scene. Divers went in the water today looking for 42-year-old Richard Wilkey.

Wilkey's nephew David was the third person on the boat and possibly the only survivor.

"He said they're looking for Ricky and they ain't found him yet," says Melvin Wilkey, brother of missing boater.

That's how Melvin Wilkey found out his youngest brother was missing, from his nephew David. Right after rescuers pulled him out of a small, capsized fishing boat the uncle, nephew and friend had been fishing in.

"They found another person floating. They got him in the boat but he was too far gone," says Bill Tittle, Hamilton County EMS.

Sunday morning rescuers returned to Chickamauga Lake to conduct a now recovery mission for the only boater left unaccounted for.

"He was just a good guy. He was my youngest brother," says Wilkey.

Melvin Wilkey says reality still hasn't hit him. As rescuers case the water three miles from the dock, he and a few family members quietly wait for any news on their missing loved one.

"Stuff like this isn't supposed to happen. Ricky had plenty of experience boating and stuff like that around barges, trot lines," says Wilkey.

Rescuers used sonar systems and divers to search the area where the boat was overturned Saturday. TWRA officials say the accident happened when a barge ran over the small fishing boat. It was later detained by Coast Guard officials at the Chickamauga Dam.

The question is how did the two vessels not see each other? Wilkey says he's holding his emotions until they know more.

"Anger's not one of them until I know the truth, until I know the truth and TWRA is supposed to get the truth out of it for me," says Wilkey.

TWRA officials and the Coast Guard say the fishing boat was in the middle of the lake channel when the accident happened.

The three men on the fishing boat were not wearing life-jackets.

 

 

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