UPDATE: The Marion County community is mourning the loss of one of their own.

Daniel Atkinson died while kayaking at Ketner's Mill over the weekend. Witnesses say he was pulled under by the strong current.

The owner of the Chattanooga Skydiving Company, Justin Silvia, says Atkinson worked there as an instructor for the past five years. He says Atkinson came from Florida where he lived with his family.

“He’s going to be missed he’s left a big hole in our hearts,” said Silvia. “Skydivers are one big family and when you join the family you are in and you want to come back every year like Dan did.”

Those at the facility say Atkinson was a more than just an instructor.

“You know you have your family and then you have your sky family so we lost a family member,” said Rebecca Bateman, one of Atkinson’s students.

The skydiving staff says Atkinson had many titles; a teacher, leader, father, husband and friend.

“He was really involved in my life like I said for the past five years. We were seven days a week together and now I’m still in shock it doesn’t feel real,” said staff member Paul Silvia.

Many say things will never be same after Atkinson passing, but they plan to honor him by doing on skydive at a time.

“I’ve known his family for years. His kids; I’ve watch them grow up and yesterday they were hanging out with us and having to tell them that their father had passed on it was hard brutal,” said Silvia. “You know just the little stuff will be missed. The jokes, just talking and messing around with him. It’s very empty here without him.”

Funeral arrangements have not been announced.

Click here to help Atkinson’s family.


PREVIOUS STORY: A 38 year Bell, Florida man lost his life on the Sequatchie River  Sunday, July 8 in Marion County. TWRA officers responded along with Whitwell PD and Marion County officers to a call regarding a kayak incident below the low head dam at Ketner's Mill at approximately 3:45 p.m.

Witnesses stated Daniel J. Atkinson along with his wife and two children went to the Ketner's Mill area to swim and kayak. Witnesses shared, the children were swimming and the wife took a kayak out to practice maneuvering.  The wife returned to shore and Atkinson took the kayak out to share maneuvering techniques. He quickly paddled towards the low head dam.

Witnesses said the water from the dam overturned the kayak and the man was pulled under by the strong current.  Witnesses were able to pull the man to the shore and perform CPR until EMS arrived. The man was transported to Park Ridge West Hospital where he pronounced dead.