Still Missing

October 5, 2011
by: 
Dwayne Page
Dr. William Coltharp

Nothing new yet in the disappearance of a Nashville surgeon who went kayaking on Center Hill Lake Sunday and hasn't been seen since.

TWRA Officer Tony Cross told WJLE Tuesday night that the search will resume Wednesday. "Recovery operations are still underway. We haven't made any discoveries of any kind. In addition to the TWRA and Corps of Engineers, still several members of the Rescue Squad have been on the scene along with Charlie Parker of Emergency Management, and members of the Sheriff's Department. The Coffee County Rescue Squad has been down there doing some night time sonar to see if they can locate anything," he said

Divers have not been used primarily because no one knows for sure where the man may have gone in the lake. Officer Cross said the area being covered is deep and wide. "Its not specific enough. Its such a huge area. We're not pinpointed to where the victim might have gone down. It's a little over a mile from the area where he was last seen to where we found the boat," he said.

So what happened to Dr. William Coltharp? "Mr. Coltharp actually came to the lake late Sunday afternoon to do a little kayaking alone. He launched his boat somewhere around five to six o'clock we don't know exactly when but in that area of time. He was actually seen by a couple of construction workers from the bridge project. He was seen paddling down stream right in the area of the lower ramp at Hurricane bridge just before dark on Sunday, " said Officer Cross.

"When he didn't return home later that night, his wife phoned 911 and they (central dispatch) got in touch with us (TWRA). About 2:30 a.m. or so on Monday morning, we began a search to see if we could find Mr. Coltharp and his kayak. Between five and five thirty a.m. Monday morning, we found the kayak., which was overturned just over a mile downstream from the lower Hurricane bridge boat ramp. The paddle was actually found three quarters of a mile even further downstream a little later in the day. We also found a life jacket, a personal flotation device underneath the kayak when we righted it. Since that time, we've been just trying to do some dragging in the area around and below the boat ramp and where the overturned kayak was found. The problems that we are encountering are that its such a huge area of deep water. We don't know how much current there was that evening. Just the wind itself can push anything such as a kayak along pretty good. So we really don't know where he might have overturned or whatever happened," said Officer Cross.

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