2 TWRA Officers Ejected Into Water After Boat Hits Apparent Floating Debris

Saturday, May 24, 2014

SPEEDWELL, Tn. -  Because of having worn their life jackets, two TWRA officers are slightly injured but safe after a single-vessel boating accident on Norris Lake last night.

Officers Jerry Short and Harrison Cornett were on patrol of Norris Lake around 10:30 p.m. last night near Blue Springs Dock when they apparently struck a large piece of floating debris.  The impact caused both officers to be ejected from the vessel and into the water.

  Officer Short was able to swim back to the vessel and use the radio to contact the TWRA dispatcher and other wildlife officers for assistance. 

Both officers sustained minor injuries and were transported to Claiborne County Hospital in Tazewell.  They have been treated and released.

The vessel has been recovered and the accident is under investigation by the TWRA Boating and Law Enforcement Division. 

Statistics show that the majority of people who die in boating accidents drown and the majority of people who drown are not wearing life jackets, officials said.  

TWRA Law Enforcement Major Brian Ripley said,  " The majority of fatalities from boating accidents occur as a result of situations similar to this one: People unexpectedly finding themselves in the water without a life jacket."  

TWRA Investigator George Birdwell stated, “In recent years, TWRA created a policy that all agency employees must wear a life jacket while in a vessel.  However, several years prior to the mandate, law enforcement training personnel demonstrated the importance of wearing life jackets while on duty by subjecting the officers to rigorous training exercises.  This encouraged many officers to voluntarily wear them before the policy was in place.  It made the officers realize that in emergency situations, a life jacket is the only thing that can save their lives.  Also, by our officers wearing their life jackets while on duty promotes the simple fact to Tennessee’s boaters that wearing them saves lives.” 

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