Search continues for missing skier

By Abby Morris
Star Staff

   Nearly two weeks after a Bristol man went missing in Watauga Lake after a boating accident, emergency workers from all over Northeast Tennessee will gather to conduct a wide-range search for his body this weekend.
   According to Carter County Rescue Squad Director Terry Arnold, the search for the body of James Woodmancy, 37, will be a massive undertaking on Saturday. "What I have been told by the state office in Nashville is that we will have more than 100 people and somewhere between 30 and 40 boats," he said. "A lot of people have asked why we are doing this on Memorial Day weekend but we don't take breaks for weather or holidays."
   On Friday, rescue crews will conduct a sonar search of the lake and on Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. rescue workers will conduct dragging operations in the lake.
   "After this, it's about all we can do except for an occasional top water search," Arnold said.
   According to officials, Woodmancy had been at Watauga Lake near the Watauga Point Recreation Area with a friend preparing to water ski when the accident occurred on May 16. "He was struck by the boat and apparently went under the water," said Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency Wildlife Officer Gary McWherter. "The operator (of the boat) obtained assistance from a fisherman but they were unsuccessful in locating Mr. Woodmancey."
   So far, emergency personnel have been able to recover a part of Woodmancey's life jacket and one of the water skis he was using, according to reports.
   Rescue workers braved rain and thunderstorms on the day Woodmancey disappeared in the effort to locate him. Search efforts for the missing man began shortly after the call at 5:30 p.m. and continued until the early morning hours on May 17.
   Several local and state agencies have assisted in the search for the missing man. Officers from the TWRA joined members of the Carter County Rescue Squad - including the Swift Water Rescue Team - as well as members of the Kingsport Lifesaving Crew's Water Rescue Team, members of the Hampton-Valley Forge Volunteer Fire Department and a search and rescue dog team from the Bristol Tennessee Police Department.
   The Kingsport Lifesaving Crew brought in some specialized equipment to aid in the search for Woodmancey, including a side sonar device and an underwater panning camera to search for the man under water.
   According to officials, the portion of the lake where the man was reported missing can vary in depth from 60 feet to more than 200 feet and falls right in the main channel for the Watuaga River.