published Thursday, January 17th, 2013

Search for three missing after boat accident near Polk-McMinn county line called off till Friday

A search resumes along the Polk-McMinn county line near the Hiwassee River and Delano Creek where three people are missing after their boat overturned.
A search resumes along the Polk-McMinn county line near the Hiwassee River and Delano Creek where three people are missing after their boat overturned.
Photo by WRCB-TV Channel 3 /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

A search will resume around noon Friday near the Polk-McMinn county line along Conasauga Creek where an adult and two children are still missing after their canoe overturned Wednesday evening.

Polk County Emergency Management Agency Director and West Polk County Fire and Rescue Chief Stephen Lofty said just after noon today that officials decided to call off the search after about six hours of searching in a Mennonite community in North Polk County off of Delano Road.

Officials say six members of the same Mennonite family got into a canoe Wednesday on the rain-swollen Conasauga Creek and were paddling around when the canoe overturned with all six aboard around 6:30 p.m.

Three family members, an adult and two children, made it out of the water. But another adult and two more children disappeared, officials said.

No names or ages have been released.

A search was launched immediately Wednesday evening, then later halted until resuming again early on Thursday.

Lofty said National Weather Service officials had notified rescue and search teams that snow was expected to move in during the afternoon, possibly dumping eight inches of snow on the mountains and five inches in the valleys.

Searchers chilled and wet since starting operations around 6:30 a.m. were already exhausted and suffering from exposure to the cold, he said. In the interest of safety, officials decided to halt the search until Friday when the weather situation can be reassessed.

Lofty said the weather could affect the search and when it resumes, depending on whether emergency officials become occupied with weather-related problems overnight.

Contact staff writer Ben Benton at bbenton@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6569. Subscribe to his Facebook posts at facebook.com/ben.benton1 and follow him at twitter.com/BenBenton on Twitter.

about Ben Benton...

Ben Benton is a news reporter at the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He covers Southeast Tennessee and previously covered North Georgia education. Ben has worked at the Times Free Press since November 2005, first covering Bledsoe and Sequatchie counties and later adding Marion, Grundy and other counties in the northern and western edges of the region to his coverage. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Tenn., a graduate of Bradley Central High School. Benton ...

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