Water flow at Ocoee at time of deaths fast but safe, TVA says - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Water flow at Ocoee at time of deaths fast but safe, TVA says

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Two women are dead are drowning at the same area of the Ocoee River in unrelated incidents.

TVA controls the water flow at the Ocoee. Once the river reaches a certain rate of flow, it makes a recommendation to shut it down to the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.

On Saturday, TVA recorded 3,245 cubic feet of water flowing per second at one part of the river. At 3,000 cubic feet of water, TVA will normally recommend to close the river to rafters.

At the time of the second death Sunday, the discharge wasn't as fast with a recorded rate of 1,500 cubic feet per second.

But a TVA official said those measurements were taken a few miles away from where the two women died. He said the water flow where they drowned was at a fast but safe level. TVA did not recommend the river close Saturday or Sunday at the site of the deaths.

TVA provided Channel 3 with the following data:

  • On Saturday, around the time of the incident, the flow rate on the middle section of the Ocoee was approximately 2,300-2,600 cubic feet per second.
  • On Sunday, around the time of the second incident, the flow rate on the middle section of the Ocoee was approximately 2,200 – 2,500 cubic feet per second.


"The site of the two fatalities, the water rate flow was between 2200 and 2600 cubic feet per second which was less than the 3000 cubic feet per second that we take as an extreme level to notify the state," said TVA spokesperson Mike Bradley.

The first fatality on Saturday has been identified as 51 year-old Marnita McGruder, from Rex, GA.  The second fatality on Sunday has been identified as 36 year-old Katherine Tyler Luna, from Smyrna, TN.

A raft guide told Channel-3 these are the first fatalities on the Middle Ocoee in almost 15 years. But records show two people died rafting the Upper Ocoee in the summer of 2011.

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