Update Sunday 2:45 PM:
While we don’t know the current condition of the two transported for medical attention, we have a first hand account from a man who states it was the longest three hours of his life.
Rhea County’s Chuck Riley was enjoying Labor Day Weekend on Watts Bar Lake around the popular Sand Island hub Saturday night, when he said he heard what sounded like a shotgun blast.
Minutes later he received a call from friends saying there had been an accident nearby. Riley was positioned on the north side of Sand Island and the accident had happened on the channel side.
Being nearby, he and others, rushed to the scene to help. Upon arrival, he could tell there had been a horrible collision between between a flat bottom and a pontoon boat.
According to Riley, the flat bottom contained three adults, while the pontoon had 12 passengers – mostly kids. From what he gathered from first-hand accounts, the pontoon had been parked with no lights on. The flat bottom boat didn’t see them until it was too late.
“The whole top of the boat from the drivers seat to the motor was tore off,” said Riley of the point of impact. “It was hit towards the passenger side back and the flat bottom went over the pontoon.”
One woman from the pontoon remained in the water, while one of the kids had been able to get back on the pontoon. She was moving her feet and legs and holding on to the pontoon boat. The kid appeared to have a bruised leg, but he was walking.
Riley said he tried to keep the lady in the water calm until medical personnel arrived.
“We tried to keep them talking but they were freaking out,” he exclaimed. “I think it shook them up more than anything.”
When medical teams arrived, Riley helped her into a basket where she was lifted safely onto their boat. She and her child, were then transported for medical attention.
Riley says of the three adults in the flat bottom, one may have suffered a concussion but refused medical treatment.
The pontoon was believed to be rented from Mad Moose Marine (formerly Euchee Marina in Meigs Co.) by a Kentucky family. The flat bottom is believed to be from the area.
Riley says they were extremely lucky, “Half the people on the pontoon dove off the boat when they saw the flat bottom heading towards them.”
“If not, it could have been much worse,” he insisted.
After the incident, Riley towed the pontoon boat back to the marina, while a ski boat towed the flat bottom.
That’s not how Riley planned his Labor Day Weekend, but he says, “That’s the thing you do on the river. When someone is broke down or needs help – you help.”
Update 10:10 PM: TWRA is working the accident. The only information we have is that there were two patients. The extent of the injuries are unknown at this time. Meigs County EMS transported them.
Around 8:40 PM a call came in to Rhea County Emergency Dispatch reporting a two boat collision with injuries on the main channel side of Sand Island on Watts Bar Lake.
The Rhea County Sheriff’s Marine Division is on their way. Meigs County Sheriff’s Department is reported to be on the scene.
Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency will work the accident while local law enforcement will assist emergency medical response teams.
This is a developing story. Updates will follow as more information becomes available.