Accident Database

Report ID# 116432

  • PFD Not Worn or Present
  • Other

Accident Description

From Chip Collins: It happened above and thru the photo rapid at "Pebble Beach.' It's river right above the first time it goes under I-40, and below the first bridge below Hartford. I'm guessing two miles approximately below Hartford. So 2 or two and a half miles above the lower takeout at Denton. The is deep water on river left thru there, and several small ledges, hence the photo folks shoot the lower there. Locals also swim and tube at a beach or two downstream below a series of ledges. It's a popular party spot.


Drowning Of A Man Last Thursday Not Reported Or Acknowledged

Cocke County Life on FB

 It has been 5 days since a man drowned on the Pigeon River, and I find it suspicious that local News and law enforcement agencies have been silent. It appears that drownings are being treated the same as Dog Attacks…ignore it and remain silent!

Here are the facts: Around 2pm, a man, his family, and friends were tubing from a campground upstream and taking out at Pebble Beach. Most of the group had successfully gotten off the water, but 3 individuals had not.

 The man had tethered himself to his daughter or the companion’s tube for the duration of the float trip but unlatched himself approaching Pebble. In his attempt to get them over to the bank, he lost his hold on the tube and was left to swim.  He was not wearing a personal flotation device. Chasing the tubers he became overwhelmed and took in water. At that point he had zero buoyancy and he slipped beneath the waves in the middle of the Photo Rapid at Pebble Beach.

 A rafting trip was passing through the Photo Rapid at that very moment. To the credit of raft guides, they eddied out and beached to try to assist. Unfortunately, the man was deep underwater, and his body didn’t surfaced until 4pm, at a location after the first I-40 bridge.

 Information gathered from an eyewitness account by Brenna Miletich. 


Man drowns in Pigeon River after tubing accident

 The Cocke County Sheriff’s Office confirms a man drowned on Thursday in the Pigeon River after eye witnesses called 9-1-1.

 By Sam Luther WVLT TV 8 Knoxville

Published: Jul. 26, 2022 

 COCKE COUNTY, Tenn. (WVLT) - Multiple witnesses said they saw a man fall out of his tube on the Pigeon River and drown shortly after. The Cocke County Sheriff’s Office confirms the drowning occurred on Thursday, July 21.

 Locals in Cocke County refer to the drowning area as “Pebble Beach,” an area of rocks where you can stand and watch people on rafts float by. It’s the same place where Brenna Miletich sets up daily to take pictures of visitors floating down the river. On average, she takes nearly 4,000 pictures a day, but on that day she put the camera down to call 911.

 “I realized something was terribly amiss when I saw the looks on those guests’ faces,” said Miletich.

 The photographer said she watched a man fall out of a single-person tube and into the Pigeon River. Rescuers on the scene tried throwing a rope to the man in the water, but he never resurfaced in the area, according to Miletich.  She added that this man was with a group of friends and family by themselves and not customers of local rafting companies along the river.

 “These were private boaters in inner tubes on a section of the river that I wouldn’t inner tube on,” said Smokey Mountain Outdoors owner Daniel Jennette. He adds that the man was tubing in a part of the river, which wouldn’t be considered safe.

 Although a tragic day, it’s one Jennette said could have been avoided if this man had a life jacket on, which wasn’t the case, according to multiple accounts. Falling out of a raft or tube can be frightening, especially for someone without a life jacket. If you do have one on, there’s a standard protocol to follow to ensure that you make it out safely. “Just lean back and keep your feet out in front of you. Toes out of the water and just enjoy the ride until someone can get to you, or you can get to a spot where you can safely get out of the water,” said Jennette.

 The man’s identity has not been released as of yet. WVLT News has been told details will come from the Cocke County Emergency Management Agency soon.


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