A small plane missing in Lake Chickamauga since Monday afternoon has been found after a lengthy search.
A female passenger was in the plane, and she has been identified by family members as 55-year-old Lynda Marinello, a local teacher. She had been married to Chris Marinello for almost 32 years.
Her body was still strapped into the plane.
Mr. Marinello said his family had been friends with pilot Frank W. Davey for some two decades. He said he had felt safe with her flying with him.
He described her as fun-loving and beloved by her many students from throughout the years.
The plane was seen going down at 1:48 p.m. in the vicinity of Camp Vesper Point off Lee Pike.
Authorities said the aircraft was located near the vicinity where eyewitness accounts on Monday report the airplane went down just before witnesses lost sight of the aircraft.
The aircraft was located in approximately 35 feet of water after search crews used side-scan sonar to locate an anomaly on the lake floor. HCSO Dive Team personnel dove the site and confirmed the wreckage.
HCSO Divers located two victims among the wreckage and made recovery. Both victims’ remains were transported to the Hamilton County Medical Examiner’s Office.
Authorities said the primary objective will now shift to a recovery operation in which personnel will assess the damaged craft in the coming days and how best to recover it.
Once the craft is removed from the lake, it will be transported to a secure site and detained for investigators to review the wreckage. The HCSO will work in collaboration with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to determine the cause of the crash.
The timeline to remove the aircraft has not been determined and will depend greatly on the weather, water conditions, the time required to conduct a proper assessment of the wreckage, and the location of available resources necessary to lift the plane from the lake, it was stated.
Sheriff Jim Hammond said, “The HCSO would like to offer our prayers and condolences to the family of the victims as they continue through the difficult grieving process. I want to thank each of our personnel and the many supportive agencies who assisted with locating this aircraft. Thanks to their relentless determination and training, they have been able to locate the wreckage and help bring some needed closure to the family of the victims.”
He said the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office would like to offer its appreciation to the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA), TWRA, TVA, Sale Creek Volunteer Fire Department, Dallas Bay Volunteer Fire Department, Franklin County Emergency Services, Highway 58 Volunteer Fire Department, STARS, and local members of the community for their continued operational support and expertise. The HCSO would also like to thank all the local organizations, businesses, and private citizens who provided food for the operations.
It is not known at this time when the aircraft will be ready for recovery.