Weekend boating-related deaths call attention to continued vigilance on local waterways

Officials at the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency focus on water safety and boating safety.

By Tamas Mondovics

As the busy Memorial Holiday weekend has passed, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has placed emphasis on the use of life jackets when boating safely and responsibly. TWRA officers were on the lookout over the long weekend for unsafe boating behaviors, such as navigation under the influence (BUI) and other reckless operations.

TWRA agents are currently investigating a boating incident on Lake Fort Loudoun last Saturday afternoon that resulted in the deaths of two people. TWRA Sgt. Roy Smith reports that around 4:30 p.m., a pontoon boat operated by a 70-year-old man, Terrance Andrew Dea, traveling upstream in the Little River Lake portion, was passed by a personal watercraft operated by an 18-year-old. old Emma Renée Fila.

A few minutes later, the pontoon boat fell on top of the watercraft and the operator was floating face down in the water after the watercraft collided with a concrete railroad bridge support. The operator of the pontoon boat jumped into the water to rescue the watercraft operator but was incapacitated by a medical emergency. Passers-by on another boat pulled the two victims out of the water and administered CPR to them; However, neither survived, officers said.

Ms. Fila, who operated the watercraft, wore a life jacket and the ignition switch lanyard, as required by law. Terrance Andrew Dea, the operator of the pontoon boat, was not wearing a life jacket. TWRA offers its prayers and condolences to the families of the victim and would like to thank the Knoxville Police Department, Knox Co. Fire and Rescue Services and AMR Emergency Medical Services for their assistance.

“Paddleboards, canoes and kayaks are pleasure craft and should not be treated like toys,” said Cpt. Matt Majors, TWRA Boating Investigator. “Boaters should have the correct life jackets and wear them. It is important to stay away from swollen streams and rivers, as the waters can be dangerous for novice boaters.

In 2020 on Tennessee waters, the TWRA reported 22 boating-related fatalities, an increase of 16 from the same period the previous year. There were also 49 incidents with 65 injuries and 70 incidents of property damage. As the summer boating season heats up, boaters are urged to follow safety guidelines and not take those guidelines for granted.

Johnson County’s Watauga Lake is a popular boating destination for locals. The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency has placed an emphasis on the use of life jackets when boating in a safe and responsible manner. Photo by Tamas Mondovics

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