Water skier missing at Watauga Lake

By Julie Fann
star staff

   Officers with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency and Carter County Rescue Squad on Sunday evening searched Watauga Lake during heavy rain for a 37-year-old male from Bristol who disappeared after a water skiing accident.
   The accident happened between Lakeshore Dock and Fish Springs Dock, and 911 operators received the call reporting the accident around 5:20 p.m.
   According to TWRA, the victim was in the water preparing to water ski, and as the operator, a female, put the boat motor into gear, the back of the boat swung around and ran over the man.
   The driver tried to pull the man out, but his life preserver came off and he disappeared under the water.
   Members of the Carter County Sheriff's Department, Hampton Volunteer Fire Department, as well as rescue departments from other counties also responded to the scene.
   An investigation into the accident is ongoing, and authorities declined to release names. At 9 p.m. Sunday, rescue workers had not located the victim and planned to continue searching until 11:30 p.m.
   TWRA officials also responded to three other accidents that occurred on East Tennessee lakes Sunday.
   On Norris Lake near Knoxville, a 25-year-old male from New Tazewell, Larry Braden, drowned after the boat he was riding in capsized. TWRA officials said four other men and an 8-year-old boy from Claiborne County were also in the boat, which was aluminum and had no motor.
   The 8-year-old and a 19-year-old were transported to UT Hospital by Lifestar for observation. TWRA officials said there were no life preservers on board and alcohol was thought to be a factor.
   Also on Norris Lake, at approximately 7:20 p.m. a brother and sister were injured when the tube they were riding hit a rock and tree. Mark Byers, 25, and Megan Byers, 22, both of LaFollette, sustained broken bones and lacerations and were transported to UT Hospital.
   On Douglas Lake in Jefferson County, two personal watercraft collided near Mountain Cove Marina near the Jefferson/Sevier County line at about 3:15 p.m. One of the watercraft stalled and was struck by the other. Two females were aboard the PWCs and both were injured and transported to the UT Hospital by Sevier County Ambulance Service.