(Memphis) Crews have been searching McKellar Lake for a missing boater, who may fallen overboard Wednesday afternoon.
His boat was found spinning in circles with no one on board.
We’re told the man, whose name has not been released, had been working on the small boat and was seen operating it just a short while before he disappeared.
There has been a clear sense of urgency among personnel from the Coast Guard, the Shelby County Sheriff’s Department, Memphis Police and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.
People who have met the missing boater said it’s anyone’s guess as to what happened.
Tom Slaughter is a boat mechanic at the Riverside Park Marina on McKellar Lake.
“Accidents can happen to anybody, I mean the best of the best, it can happen to the best of us,” said Slaughter.
Slaughter knows the missing boater and saw him just after 5 p.m. Wednesday.
Shortly after, the man disappeared into McKellar Lake.
“We noticed him going by earlier, you know. Then all of the sudden, we didn’t notice him in the boat anymore,” said Slaughter.
The man was operating a 10- to 12-foot motorized boat called a Zodiac.
It has inflatable sides and a fiberglass deck.
“We noticed the boat out there, running in circles,” said Slaughter.
Slaughter and John Bratton, who also works at the Marina, went out on McKellar Lake to investigate.
Bratton said they found an empty boat with the engine revved up high.
“And it was going in circles. just wildly going in circles. The life jacket was in the bottom of the boat, right in front of the motor, where…where he was sitting on it,” said John Bratton.
Search and rescue operations were conducted late into Wednesday night and resumed Thursday morning.
The Shelby County Sheriff’s Department brought in specially trained search dogs and the TWRA assisted with “side-scan” sonar.
Agents examined the man’s abandoned boat, looking for any clues as to what happened on the usually calm lake.
The missing boater’s name hasn’t been released, but we’re told he owns a pleasure boat named “Mallard” that’s docked at the Riverside Park Marina. The man reportedly lived on the boat while working a job in the Memphis area.
While searchers went about their jobs Thursday, Bratton tried to do his, but Bratton could do little more than wonder what happened to the man he considered a “good guy.”
“He was there five minutes ago and then he’s gone. You kind of hope…I guess. Hope is what you keep looking for…keep holding on to,” said Bratton.
Search operations were suspended Thursday afternoon because of the threat of severe weather in the area of McKellar Lake.
The search is scheduled to resume Friday morning.