Girl, 10, grandmother die when boat capsizes in storm
HARRISON, TN. (WRCB) -- The view is a big reason Ulka Shah, Don Godsey and their families built their homes near the Pumphouse Slough on Chickamauga Lake.
But the sight of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, trawling for wreckage Friday morning, confirms that they'd seen what they'd rather not believe, the evening before.
"Our grandson actually was going to go on a boat trip 30 seconds before it happened," Shah says.
" Then the winds started blowing, they'd look like the ocean!"
"Biggest waves I've seen," Godsey says. "And I've been here eight years. Then, my wife looked over and said 'Oh, my God, that boat's turned over."
It was a double-decker pontoon boat, carrying an extended family of seven children and five adults.
"It was fairly top-heavy," TWRA lead investigator Ben Davis says. "It was no match for that wind."
Godsey's wife and Shah's husband were among the many who called 911.
"We saw one person jump on the other side of the boat, which was smart," Shah says. "And saw quite a few people hanging on the side."
"You could hear them hollering that there's people trapped underneath the boat," Godsey says. "They were trying to get 'em out."
Dallas Bay Fire & Rescue would be the first responders. Three more agencies and a dive team would offer aid.
Time worked against them.
"The water was so choppy, it was difficult for them to come close," Shah says.
"It seemed like forever," Godsey agrees. "It probably was no more than ten minutes."
Finally freed, a 10-year-old girl and her grandmother were in critical condition. Other neighbors helped perform CPR.
"My wife stayed with the little girl's younger brother and sister," Godsey says. "We're praying for them."
Shah saw them loaded into ambulances to be taken to the hospital.
She could do little more than bring her hand to her cheek, and murmur, 'oh, my, when told that both
Neighbors confirm the girl was from Hamilton County. The boat was her father's. His parents were visiting from out of state.
Channel 3 is honoring the family's request not to identify the victims until the girl's parents are assured all their relatives are notified.
The TWRA may need to return to the cove Saturday to ensure all the wreckage has been removed, Davis says.
"In this case, it appears that the family was doing everything they could to keep themselves and the children safe."
"It was just a terrible situation to have happened."