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Two men rescued after swollen river waters overturn their boat

The Dallas Bay Volunteer Fire Department swift-water team rescues John D. Dunn from the log where he had been for nearly two hours. Photo by Carson Camp.

CORRECTION 03/12/2019 11:40 a.m.:  The STARRS team from Hamilton County was cancelled en route. The Dallas Bay swift water team arrived on scene with two boats and made the rescue, not Hamilton County STARRS.

March 10, 2019 – Two Marion County men found themselves stranded in the middle of the Sequatchie River Sunday after the flood-swollen river overturned their boat shortly after launch.

Multiple emergency agencies sprang into action to rescue Joseph Cagle, 26, and John D. Dunn, 24, after a passerby called 911 to report that he saw their boat “roll over,” EMA Director Winfred Smith said.

Cagle and Dunn reportedly put in their boat at the old Canoe the Sequatchie canoe launch, but did not make it very far downstream before the turbulent waters overturned their craft, dumping them into the water.

Cagle was able to grab hold of an uprooted tree in the middle of the river, while Dunn was washed about 1,000 feet farther downstream before making it out of the water onto a log.

Sequatchie County 911 Dispatch got the call at about 1:45 p.m., Smith said.

A passerby, who is actually a resident of the county, happened to be driving by and saw it,” Smith said. “He saw the boat roll over.”

Sequatchie County Rescue Squad, Dunlap Police Department, Sequatchie County Sheriff's Department, and the Emergency Management Agency were dispatched to the scene on John Burch Road East alongside the riverbank.

They called the STARR (Southern Technical Aquatic Resource & Rescue) swift-water rescue team from Hamilton County, but they were cancelled en route when Dallas Bay Volunteer Fire Department swift water rescue responded first. When the Dallas Bay team arrived with two boats, they put in at the US 127 bridge and worked their way downstream, taking each of the men on board their raft and transporting them back to their launch point by the bridge.

Cagle and Dunn were out of the water by 3:30 p.m., and Smith said the two men were uninjured.

They were checked out by Puckett EMS,” he said. “They were just wet and cold.”

Also on scene for the incident were Bledsoe County Rescue Squad and the local TEMA (Tennessee Emergency Management Agency) representative.

John D. Dunn and Joseph Cagle climb out on shore after their rescue Sunday.