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Pair of tubers rescued in Cumberland County wilderness after 911 call

WATE Knoxville logo WATE Knoxville 8/8/2022 Melanie Vásquez Russell
Pair of tubers rescued in Cumberland County wilderness after 911 call © Provided by WATE Knoxville Pair of tubers rescued in Cumberland County wilderness after 911 call

CROSSVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) - A “distraught” 911 call in Cumberland County led to the multiagency search and rescue of two people who had gotten lost and separated during a tubing trip over the weekend, according to the Cumberland County Emergency Management Agency.

A multiagency search effort was launched late Saturday, Aug. 6 after Cumberland County E-911 received a call from a lost female in the area of Catoosa Wildlife Management Area. The Catoosa WMA is a large, back-country game-management area on the Upper Cumberland Plateau in Morgan, Cumberland and Fentress counties, according to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.

“The female was very distraught and was unable to give much detail as to her location, condition, or events leading up to her call for help,” Travis Cole, Cumberland County EMA director, said in a news release. “When operators attempted to call the phone back for more information, the calls went straight to voicemail as if the phone battery was dead or out of signal.”

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Initially, the Cumberland Co. Sheriff’s Office, Cumberland County Rescue Squad, and Crossville/Cumberland EMA were dispatched to the area and a Command Post was established at the Hebbertsburg Fire Department.

The search progressed into the night, leading to an expansion of resources to aid in locating the woman.

A Tennessee Highway Patrol helicopter was requested; personnel from the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency also responded.

In the early morning hours just before sunrise on Sunday, the THP helicopter located the missing female and kept visual on her location while ground crews from Cumberland County Rescue Squad and Cumberland County EMS were sent to her location to remove her from the Daddy's Creek gorge.

“A very hazardous area by water or ground,” Cole said.

Once rescuers reached the woman, they determined she was uninjured. She told them she had set off the previous evening with a male companion to float the river in tubes, and they had gotten separated.

The man was still missing in the wilderness.

“Immediately, more resources and manpower were requested from Fentress Co. Rescue Squad, White Co. Rescue Squad, Christian Aid Ministries, continued air support from Knox Co. Sheriffs Office Aviation Unit, and communications support from Putnam Co. Homeland Security Comms Team due to the size of the potential search and exhaustion from the overnight search on our local personnel,” Cole said.

The man was found safely around noon on Sunday, Aug. 7, assessed by EMS, and was returned home.

All units were accounted for and returned to service around 2 p.m. and the command post was terminated.

“Thank you to all the agencies, professionals, volunteers, and workers that made this mission a success,” Cole concluded in the news release. “No emergency is ever the same or ‘routine’ and we are fortunate to have some of the best in the business living and working among us here in Cumberland County.”

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