Water, current makes search for missing boaters more difficult

WATCH: Water, current makes search for missing boaters more difficult

HARDIN COUNTY, Tenn. — The search and rescue efforts for a high school fishing team missing on Pickwick Lake are in their third day.

The two 15-year-olds and their 43-year-old chaperone went missing Sunday.

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency leads the search.

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FOX13’s Tom Dees found out the water and the current have not made the search any easier.

TWRA told us that the floodgates where Pickwick Lake dumps into the Tennessee River cannot be closed due to the level that the floodwater is at.

“Because of the rain,” said Amy Spencer, TWRA. “How many inches have we had here in the last month in west Tennessee? We can’t close the gates. It is going to flood on the other side.”

TWRA told us this weekend, the water moved through the dam at 225,000 cubic feet per second.

It has dropped to 184,000 cubic feet per second because the water has come down.

That should help the search.

The boat the missing boaters were in was sucked through the dam and into the Tennessee River.

Rick Matlock has fished Pickwick Lake and the Tennessee River his whole life, he has helped with the search.

“There is a lot of current on the lake right now they have had 19 gates open even as far as up 6-miles up that river there is a lot of current and debris coming down there is logs,” Matlock said.

The TVA dam is marked by warning signs, and flashing warning lights when the flood gates are open.

Matlock told us that fisherman who fish near the dam, must stay on alert.

“You just have to really watch what you are doing if you are up fishing while the gates are open,” he said.

While we were at the Pickwick spillway, a police helicopter in the search, circled overhead.

TWRA told us they will concentrate their search on a 14-mile stretch of river but have searched as far as 30-miles out.

There are more than 200 law enforcement officers and volunteers involved in the search.

“We are just hoping by this afternoon or tomorrow someone will find him,” Matlock said.

TWRA told us the law enforcement officers have come from multiple counties to search.

They also told us they are screening volunteers and only using those who know the river well.