Deadly Boat Accident Under Spill Gates

Many boaters don't realize the the hydraulic current created when spill gates are open will actually pull a boat toward the violent water rather than pushing it away. (Photo: Richard Simms)

TWRA is investigating a fatal boating accident that happened on the Tennessee River below Ft. Loudoun Dam Saturday morning where three men went overboard into treacherous waters. The operator of the boat, Donald McCorkle, 49, of Lincolnton, NC and passenger Clint McCorkle, 22, also of Lincolnton, NC were taken to the hospital. A.J. Re’, 23, of Denver, NC was pronounced dead.

Sometime after 10:00 a.m., their 22-foot fishing boat overturned after it was pulled into water that was being discharged from the dam. Witnesses say that the boat appeared to be attempting to reach an area towards the middle of the dam where only one floodgate out of eleven was not spilling water. As the boat got too close, it was pulled into the falling water and forced under sending all three men overboard.

Several nearby fishermen saw the incident and were able to retrieve all three men into their boats. At this time, it is believed that all three fishermen were wearing personal flotation devices but because of the force of the water, some of the PFDs were torn off in the incident.

Due to recent heavy rainfall, many of Tennessee’s waterways are very treacherous with high volumes of flowing water and spill gates, also called flood gates, are open at most TVA dams. The hydraulics beneath spill gates will actually pull boats toward the falling water rather than forcing them downstream.

Please exercise extreme caution when boating in moving water, especially where water is being discharged from floodgates and spillways… or just stay away.

Go here for more information.

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