NOLAN - A call was placed to Mingo County 911 Tuesday morning by a man who claimed to be fishing in the Tug River on Rt. 292 near the Martin-Pike County line, when he alleged he saw a body that looked to be that of a female floating in the water.
The call resulted in law enforcement and search and rescue teams being dispatched to the scene from both Mingo and Pike Counties.
According to information provided by Mingo County Emergency Services Director Jerrod Fletcher, the call was received at approximately 10:30 a.m., and since the caller stated he had been in Martin County when he seen the body and had left the location and came toward Williamson to make the emergency call, the Kentucky State Police (KSP) were notified as well.
Fletcher, along with three officers with the Mingo County Sheriff’s Department went to the West Virginia side of the location, which is in the Nolan community, to begin a search of the area.
“We walked the banks for quite a while, used binoculars and other equipment to see if we could either find the body or possibly spot something else floating that may have been mistaken for a body,” stated Fletcher. “We stayed on the scene for a couple of hours before turning everything over to the Kentucky State troopers who had arrived, and told them if we could be of any help at all, to call us and we would come back.”
Fletcher explained that there were some questions raised about the call reporting the sighting, and said that he was familiar with the male who called 911.
“We went to his house in an attempt to speak with him to go over what had happened, hoping to get additional information about what he saw. He wasn’t there, and so far, we’ve been unable to locate him,” said Fletcher.
KSP Trooper S. Mounts from Post 9 in Pikeville was the first to arrive, and asked for the Pike County Technical Rescue Team to respond. A total of ten members of the team with two search and rescue boats were dispatched to the location, but were not able to get into the water immediately due to the inability to find a safe location with access to the riverbank. After attempts to use the boat dock at Dan’s Branch failed because of a fallen tree, the rescue team elected to enter the river in South Williamson, Ky., near the El Azul Mexican Restaurant.
Two boats were initially used in the search, but one was not able to maneuver past rocks and debris in the river, which was further complicated by the low level of the water. The boat and crew that were successful in reaching the location where the sighting was said to have taken place diligently searched the waters for an extended period of time, but reported seeing no sign of the alleged body. After several hours had passed and many trips were completed up and down the Tug River, the decision was made to pull the boats out of the water and await further instructions.
Belfry Volunteer Fire Department Chief Nee Jackson, who also is a member of the Pike County Technical Rescue Team that was formed in February of this year, told the Daily News that no one involved in the search had spotted anything in the river that appeared to be a body. Jackson, who is a certified Swift Water Awareness instructor, was joined in the water by four fellow members of his fire department and three from the Johns Creek Volunteer Fire Department who are all certified in water rescue. Assisting from the riverbank were additional firemen and first responders from the Belfry and Pond Creek Departments. KSP Trooper S. Mirus was also part of the investigative team.
Shortly after arriving back at the Dan’s Branch location where the rescue boat was pulled from the water after the dock was cleared of the fallen tree and a large amount of sand, they were informed that an individual had spoken with one of the emergency responders and relayed that they had information regarding the alleged incident, and requested to speak with law enforcement. Nothing is being released to the media about what this information entails, but there was confirmation that an investigation has been opened by the Mingo County Sheriff’s Department (MCSD) under the direction of Sgt. J. Muncy, as well as with the KSP.
If anyone has knowledge of any information linked to this case, you are encouraged to contact the MCSD by calling 304-235-0300, or the Pikeville Post of the KSP, at 606-433-7711.
Updates on this alleged sighting of a body in Tug River will be reported by the Daily News as soon as they become available.