Accident survivor clung to spillway structure;
From The Lake News
Two men who drown in a boating accident Saturday below Kentucky Dam have been identified. A third man in the boat was rescued by the heroic efforts of rescue workers on the scene.
The bodies of Ray Herman, 64, of Campbellsburg, and Andy Myers, 44, of Louisville were recovered by rescue squad members in the Tennessee River below Kentucky Dam. Neither of the two men was wearing lifejackets when they were found.
A third fisherman, Lloyd Thomas Roberts, 53, of Bowling Green managed to find a way out of the dangerous water crashing over the dam and clung to the structure in an adjoining spillway. He was wearing a life jacket.
Witnesses standing on the river banks near the power house at the dam could hear his calls for help. Another fishing boat attempted to reach him but was forced back by the swirling water.
The place where Roberts managed to hang on to the dam was still a very dangerous place for him and anyone who might attempt to rescue him. He was near the middle of the river clinging onto the dam in between open spillways from which giant torrents of water was crashing down every second.
Concerns about Roberts trapped hanging onto the side of the dam resulted in Grand Lakes Fire Department Deputy Chief Chad Campbell to repel the 85-100 foot down the vertical side of the dam to reach the man and secure him until a larger rescue boat could arrive. It was feared that he might not be able to hang on until help could arrive. Both Livingston County Rescue Squad and Marshall County Rescue Squad responded to the scene.
Marshall County’s larger boat was used to go through the treacherous waters to reach both the men and get them to safety. The lone survivor, Roberts was airlifted to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, TN. He was treated for injures and potential hypothermia at the hospital.
Little is known about what happened. Some of the witnesses at the scene told a reporter from The Lake News that it appeared the men in the boat were having trouble getting the boat’s motor started and the boat was pulled into the water discharging from the spillway by the back current created by the fast moving water from the open gates.
When the boat became trapped in the discharge from the gates it was swamped and repeated circled in and out of the water falling through the gates. The force of the water heavily damaged the boat and only a short section of the bow protruded above the water as it circled in and out of the boiling currents near the dam. Witnesses said they could see at least one man forced away from the dam and into the white water. They said he went under and did not resurface.
Several different agencies from the state, TVA, Livingston County and Marshall County responded to the scene. The Kentucky Department of Fish and wildlife Resources is conducting an investigation of the incident.
Last year, six of the 18 people who drown in Kentucky drown on or near Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley. The loss of the two fishermen Saturday is even more ominous because the boating season on local waters is just barely underway for the season.