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TWRA: Search for missing high school fishing team still a rescue operation

TWRA is declining to reclassify an ongoing days-long search effort for three missing Obion County fishermen on Pickwick Lake as a recovery operation.

Pickwick Dam

New information confirms their 20-foot Stratos boat was occupied when it went through the Pickwick Dam floodgates, and The Courier is now being told the last known sighting of the trio occurred at least 11 hours earlier than previously believed.
Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency spokeswoman Amy Snider-Spencer said Tuesday morning that investigators verified the boat, which was found overturned near Savannah on Monday morning, was occupied when it went through the floodgates.
However, three well-placed sources involved with the search speaking on condition of anonymity said the boat went through the floodgate around 8:15 Saturday morning. Citing TWRA, multiple news outlets including The Courier previously reported the last known sighting of the three fishermen occurred around 6:45 Saturday evening.
Asked if volunteers should be informed the operation is more likely a recovery mission than a rescue, Spencer replied, “I never say recovery – that’s not a word I will use. There is always hope.”
Asked for comment or confirmation regarding the time of the incident, she said, “Then you have something I don’t have. What I’ve been told by the investigators on the scene is that the fishing team was last seen at 6:45 p.m. on Saturday.”
According to Spencer, there are five TWRA boats involved in the search, plus numerous volunteers and about 25 boats from professional search and rescue teams from Hardin and surrounding counties. A Jackson Police Department helicopter is also flying the area.
The three who are missing are described as two 15-year-old members of a high school fishing team and a 43-year-old chaperone, who has been said to be father to one of the boys, all from Obion County. Authorities have not released the names.
Obion County Director of Schools Tim Watkins said Tuesday morning that the fishing tournament was scheduled for early Saturday morning until Saturday afternoon.


  1. Billie Mayberry on February 25, 2020 at 12:40 pm

    Praying found safe this has affected all our hearts just like koby and his daughter. Everyone is in our prayers .

  2. Sandra Donovan on February 25, 2020 at 1:11 pm

    Have they stopped theflo over the dam? I know that can keep things from coming to the surface.

    • Tina on February 25, 2020 at 2:13 pm

      The search resumes this morning for two Obion County high school students and a chaperone reported missing on Pickwick Lake in Hardin County over the weekend after a fishing competition.

      It appears that TVA has cut the discharge rate through Pickwick Dam back from 230,000 cubic feet per second to 180,000 cubic feet per second. This should reduce the current downstream and allow search and rescue teams to work with less current.

    • Nikki Hancock on February 26, 2020 at 12:10 am

      I believe this is a “run of river dam” therefore the water freely moves and can not be stopped. The water is flowing over the spillway because the river is at flood level.

  3. Dawn Hooper on February 25, 2020 at 2:31 pm

    I have not stopped praying for these precious souls since I heard, from one fishing team mom to another you all are in my thoughts and prayers.

  4. Tiffany Ingram on February 25, 2020 at 2:40 pm

    I prayed hard for them to be together and comforted with hope and wrap arms around the families and communities. We Tennesseeans are strong!

  5. Brenda Sanford on February 25, 2020 at 4:10 pm

    Oh my goodness I am certainly lost for words other than to say God have mercy. God have mercy on the family and Friends God have mercy on the boater
    Precious young men that were fishing. Father God I know you could allow them to walk on water and you can also raise the Dead there’s nothing impossible to Jesus Christ. I will keep the faith…
    Lord I know you’re going to bring them home. If I can be of any service to any of you feel free to let you know. My daily prayer is father if you can use anyone use me….. God bless each and everyone of you. You’re in my thoughts and in my prayers every moment since this happened. God says he will never leave you or forsake you and he keeps his promises they are all yes and amen😍😍
    When my God
    Can part the Red Sea he can do anything for me… I asked you right now and the Holy Name of Jesus father to allow them to be found either way they are in the arms of Jesus. Bring them home father😥😥

    • Brenda Sanford on February 25, 2020 at 4:12 pm

      Mercy Lord have mercy

    • Sharon on February 25, 2020 at 7:03 pm

      Lord I ask that you bring them home.

  6. Sandy on February 25, 2020 at 4:32 pm

    I’ve been praying really hard for these guys to be found and brought back home safe! and still praying!! careful out there during your search.prayers still going up!!

  7. Betsy Borden on February 25, 2020 at 4:39 pm

    Continuing to pray for a miracle.

  8. Tm on February 25, 2020 at 5:30 pm

    Why in the world did they not post pone the tourney.. there’s bad waters all around with this flooding??

    • Kevin Cranfield on February 25, 2020 at 9:28 pm

      It was mentioned in an earlier news release that they were having issues with their boat. They thought they had trailered their boat and didn’t fish, but obviously that wasn’t the case. Sounds like the motor had lost power and the boat went through the floodgates with the team members on board. So sad to hear this. Prayers for all involved!

  9. Cant. Will cause flooding on February 26, 2020 at 4:39 pm

    They cant stop the dam. It will cause flooding up river.

  10. reece conley on February 27, 2020 at 10:32 am

    They have slowed down the dam but they can not stop it all the way due to the amount of rain it will cause a flood. Anyway, I have been praying for these fishermen and I will keep praying!

  11. Prayers that the 3 men will be found safe him. Please God protect them and let them ans bring them home safe. Amen on March 3, 2020 at 10:12 pm

    Continued prayers

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