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Boat found near Savannah, but two young fishermen, adult still missing

Rescue personnel on Monday morning recover a boat near the Tennessee River bridge at Savannah. The boat was used by a missing Obion County high school fishing team. TWRA says family members of the two missing teens and one adult have been notified of the situation.

Search efforts continue Monday afternoon for a missing high school fishing team after their boat was found overturned on the Kentucky Lake side of Pickwick Dam this morning.
Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency spokeswoman Amy Snider-Spencer said the fishing team is believed to have put their boat in on the Pickwick Lake side of the dam and was last seen around 6:45 p.m. Saturday.
A TWRA agent found the overturned boat today between 8-8:30 a.m., in the vicinity of the Tennessee River bridge at Savannah.
To get to that downstream location, the boat had to either lock through the dam, trailer around the dam, or go through a floodgate at the dam.
“Authorities didn’t get the call that they were missing until Sunday at about 9 p.m.,” Spencer said Monday, adding it’s unclear at this time why so much time passed.
According to Spencer, the preliminary TWRA investigation indicates that a 43-year-old male and two 15-year-olds from Obion County, all part of a high school fishing club, are the three reported missing. She noted that the families of the missing have all been told of the situation.
“Our investigation indicates this was a local tournament, organized from Obion County with all Obion County fishing teams, not like a big Bassmaster event or anything like that,” Spencer said.
She said preliminary reports from the adult organizers indicate the missing team’s boat was having engine trouble at the start of the event.
“What we’ve been told is that maybe their engine wouldn’t warm up or run right, so they were going to try and fish with just a trolling motor until they could get their engine running smoothly. The other teams left them at the dock to go on and fish, and that’s the last they were seen,” Spencer said.
She said that when the other teams returned to the dock, they assumed the missing team had already gone home.
Obion County Director of Schools Tim Watkins told The Courier Monday morning, “We’ve not spoken with any of the students involved in the event yet, nor any of the adults. All of the adults who were there are in Hardin County right now trying to assist in the search.”
Watkins said the tournament was not intended as an overnight trip, and he and other school officials are “still trying to determine how they weren’t missed until so long after the trip, but the assumption was they had already left because of the engine trouble.”
He said one of the adult organizers on the trip notified him and authorities that the fishing team was missing.


  1. Gary C Moore on February 24, 2020 at 6:56 pm

    I Always assure my boats have 50 ft of rope hooked to a good Anchor. Saves Lives. Bass boat ANY BOAT

    • John on February 25, 2020 at 1:42 pm

      50ft of rope wouldn’t be close to enough to anchor a boat in that current. You need 7 to 10 times the water depth and the water is around 60ft deep there.

  2. Tim Meadows on February 24, 2020 at 7:34 pm

    Prayers for all involved

  3. Lynn Atkinson on February 25, 2020 at 8:20 am

    Is there any update on the boat accident

  4. Sandra hipps on February 25, 2020 at 11:16 am

    Prayers for these families of these 3 missing

  5. Edie Woodruff on February 25, 2020 at 12:10 pm

    I’m praying strong and fierce. Give these families some comfort!!!!

  6. Pat Arthur on February 25, 2020 at 1:08 pm

    Praying for these three to be recovered safe & returned to their families. I can only imagine the emotional strain on the families & the Bass Club Members. Our son & both our grandsons fish in tournaments throughout the school year & it is always my prayer that they all be safe on the water. 🙏🙏🙏

  7. Keith on February 25, 2020 at 1:12 pm

    Where is the truck and trailer at.. They would know whether they trailered around to the other side of the dam depending on where truck and trailer is sitting.

  8. Wayne on February 25, 2020 at 2:15 pm

    I noticed no motor on the boat, they had to have hit something in the water,. Hopefully they can recover gps from the fishfinders

    • Kevin Cranfield on February 25, 2020 at 9:35 pm

      They boat went through the floodgates at the Dam. The motor was probably torn from the transom when that happened.

      • John on February 27, 2020 at 11:01 pm

        I did not see where that was confirmed. Likely, but not confirmed.

  9. Mylinda on February 25, 2020 at 6:39 pm

    So sorry to the families, praying they are found safe. If all the fishermen was together why wasn’t the truck and trailer noticed sitting in the parking lot?

  10. Michael Murphree on February 26, 2020 at 8:27 am

    Prayers for the families of the fisherman and everyone involved during this difficult time.

  11. Dwight D Haberly on February 26, 2020 at 9:00 am

    Who was the tournament director? And someone please make sure he never runs a tournament again. Not saying he could have changed what happened but, he is responsible to make sure everyone is back off the water. His failure to account for every angler is unacceptable.

  12. Franky Smith on February 26, 2020 at 10:00 am

    There’s no way these kids should have been allowed to fish in these type of conditions; no way , Adults making the decisions should have waited until waters settled down ; you have inexperienced kids out on rough waters put it off until conditions are better it ain’t that serious, even their leader on the boat don’t fish in rough waters like this does not make any sense Iam hurt and mad with the adults making the decision

    • Joe minton on February 26, 2020 at 4:53 pm

      God bless them

    • Angela Seiber on February 26, 2020 at 9:19 pm


    • Matt on February 27, 2020 at 1:55 am

      I absolutely agree

    • Simon Thomas on February 27, 2020 at 12:57 pm

      The kids are not driving and the guy was 43 he knew what he was doing could have come up on a flat and ejected them I personally fish these youth tournaments myself the safety in these tournaments are way more than some bigger tournaments.

  13. Ken on February 27, 2020 at 8:29 am

    TWRA always advises people to stay off the river during flood conditions ALWAYS . I’m a bass fisherman and I see no reason to of had the tournament under flood conditions. The expense of delaying the tournament did not exceed the risk of a lost life. God bless them all.

  14. John on February 27, 2020 at 11:02 pm

    I find it strange that this tragedy happened so fast that none on board the boat had time to make a cell phone call to 911 or family.

  15. JJ on February 29, 2020 at 1:45 am

    I personally know one of the boys that had been in that boat and I have a few things to say. Instead of saying something like, “I find it strange”, or placing blame on anyone involved just stop and think first. I don’t know if any of you have ever seen two teenage boys when they have their minds made up but I have, especially when those minds are made up about hunting or fishing. As far as making a phone call beforehand, again two teenage boys, they probably only had their thoughts on the tournament they were in right then, the adult was probably just trying to keep the boat steady so having his cell phone may not have been in the fore front of his mind. As far as being “inexperienced” boaters, I can tell you personally that at least one of the young men on that boat has spent at least 90% of his life on the water. No matter how experienced you are, no matter what the conditions are, something can happen, you can’t control everything. For those of you that already did, I would like to say a personal Thank You because I know the families need it right now, and for those of you that have not and decided to question everything, Why don’t you say a prayer for these three and their families.
    End of Rant

    • DGH on March 9, 2020 at 10:06 pm

      AMEN Brother. Human nature is to cast blame and there’s a reason why there is a saying, “hind sight is 2020!” A saying I like, “put your foot in the other person or family’s shoe before you put it in your mouth! Extended prayers to the family and the friends of these boys and that young man.

  16. Kathy on March 4, 2020 at 9:28 am

    Praying for all involved. My heart breaks for the families, fishermen, and community. Has there been any update on the three missing? Praying God will comfort each of you and guide the ones who is searching . Love each of you in Jesus Christ Name

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