Accident Database

Report ID# 82311

  • PFD Not Worn or Present
  • Does not Apply
  • Cold Water
  • Inexperience

Accident Description

February 22: A 43-year-old man and two 15-year old boys are missing and presumed dead after their 20-foot bass boat was sucked through floodgates on the Pickwick Dam in Hardin County, TN. The boys were members of The Obion County High School fishing team participating in a weekend tournament on Pickwick Lake.

According to authorities, their boat's main engine wouldn't start but they elected to proceed using the trolling motor. Surveillance cameras at the dam show the boat going through the floodgates early Saturday morning. The capsized boat was recovered on Monday morning 14 miles north of the dam near the Savannah bridge and showed extensive damage. High, fast, cold water on the river has hampered extensive search efforts, and to date, none of the victims have been recovered. It appears that none of the three were wearing PFDs or thermal protection. 

TWRA: Two teens, parent still missing on Pickwick Lake; boat recovered with 'extensive damage'

Natalie Neysa Alund, Brandon Shields and Cassandra Stephenson, 

The Nashville Tennessean

Feb. 24, 2020

Officials continue to search for two high school students and a parent chaperone who went missing Saturday night on the Tennessee River after a fishing competition. State and local officials were searching Monday for three people who went missing following a weekend fishing tournament on Pickwick Lake in Hardin County.

The missing boaters, identified by the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency as two 15-year-old boys and a 43-year-old man, were part of a Obion Central High School fishing team and had been on the water Saturday for a fishing tournament.

Search teams recovered the missing boat Monday morning on the Tennessee River below Pickwick Dam near the Savannah Bridge. The boat went through the flood gates and suffered "extensive damage," according to TWRA Spokeswoman Amy Snider-Spencer.

The Hardin County Fire Department and TWRA continue to search for the missing boaters, who had not returned home as of Monday morning. They were last seen around 6:45 p.m. Saturday.

Tim Watkins, the director of schools for Obion County, said the students and one of their fathers, a chaperone, were reported missing Sunday night. "The boat which they were in was having engine problems before the start of the competition and did not leave the dock with the rest of the competitors," Watkins told The Tennessean on Monday morning. "It was believed that they had taken the boat out of the water and gone home," Watkins said. "Evidently they decided to go ahead and try to compete."

Neither the school district or TWRA have released the missing boaters' identities.

Search continues with storms in forecast

Amy Snider-Spencer, a TWRA spokeswoman, said the search resumed at 8:00 a.m. Monday morning. Teams are currently searching the Tennessee River immediately below Pickwick Dam, but will have to pause their efforts and take shelter on land if lightning begins to appear in the area.

Strong and potentially severe storms are possible in Hardin County and other areas of West Tennessee on Monday afternoon and evening, according to the National Weather Service. Showers are expected to bring between a quarter and a half an inch of rain to the area Monday. Possible thunderstorms are not expected until Monday evening.

Hardin County also remains under flood warning due to heavy rainfall that caused river levels to rise earlier in February. Though the Tennessee River has crested and floodwaters have begun to recede over the past several days, the NWS expects water levels to remain elevated for the rest of the week. 

All three bodies recovered from Tennessee River believed to be missing Pickwick Lake boaters

TWRA says 43-year old Kenneth Driver and two 15-year-old boys were last seen in a picture taken above the Pickwick Dam in February.

Channel 10 News; Nashville Tennessean

Published: 7:57 AM EDT March 11, 2020

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The 18-day search for three missing boaters from Obion County has resulted in the recovery of three bodies from the Tennessee River.

TWRA said 43-year old Kenneth Driver and two 15-year-old boys were last seen in a picture taken above the Pickwick Dam the morning of February 22 at a fishing tournament. Authorities believe all three of thems and the 20-foot bass boat went through the floodgates of the dam.

The third body was discovered around 7:00 a.m. in the Tennessee River near Shiloh National Military Park on the Tennessee River. It was the same general area where the two previous bodies were found.

The second body was recovered Wednesday within a mile of the first missing boater recovered Tuesday, approximately nine miles from the dam. According to TWRA, the bodies have been sent to the medical examiner’s office in Memphis for an autopsy and identification.

RELATED: TWRA reducing workforce in search for three missing boaters in Hardin County. Officials with Obion County Schools said the three missing boaters missed the tournament weigh-in but organizers believed they left early. They weren’t reported missing until around 9 p.m. Sunday.

Just days after the search began, TWRA found 20-foot bass boat belonging to the boaters and transitioned its rescue operation to a recovery operation.Multiple agencies along with TWRA have been focusing their search efforts on a 14-mile stretch of the Tennessee River just a few miles past the Pickwick Dam where the boat was found.

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