Two Found Dead in Lake Victims of Drowning

February 21, 2014
Dwayne Page
Robert W. Tramel
Barbara Beach

A preliminary autopsy report from the state medical examiner reveals that the two people found dead in Center Hill Lake earlier this week drowned.

The DeKalb County Sheriff's Department and TWRA Officers believe 71 year old Robert W. Tramel and his niece 49 year old Barbara Beach both of Smithville were the victims of a boating accident. No foul play is suspected.

"At this point we haven't recovered the boat but we do feel like their vessel overturned and the result was that both of them actually drowned. They did not have life jackets in the boat," said TWRA Officer Tony Cross.

According to Officer Cross, Tramel and Beach boarded a small flat bottom John boat Wednesday at the launch ramp for the former location of Hidden Harbor Marina at Holmes Creek near an area known as Redneck Beech

There were apparently no witnesses to the accident.

Beach's body was found by a fisherman late Wednesday afternoon. "A call was made Wednesday at 5:14 pm by a fisherman who said he found a body in the water. Through an investigation, we learned that the two (Tramel and Beach) had gone fishing earlier in the day around the Holmes Creek Boat Ramp off of Holmes Creek Road," said Sheriff Patrick Ray.

"Her body was in about 12-14 feet of water," added TWRA Officer Cross.

Tramel's body was found early Thursday morning by the Smithville-DeKalb County Rescue Squad. "His body was found in the lake around 4:28 a.m. Thursday morning after the Smithville-DeKalb County Rescue Squad, using their sonar system, spotted an image of interest. The TWRA then used a submersible sonar, equipped with a camera and grab hook, to retrieve the body," said Sheriff Ray.

"His body was recovered approximately 400-500 yards from the boat ramp, about 200 yards from Beach's body. He was in about 25 feet of water," said Officer Cross.

Although the water is not very deep in the area where the bodies were located, Officer Cross said it has been difficult to pinpoint the location of the boat. "There's a lot of stuff under the water, poured concrete weights which were once used to anchor the marina, and other things. It's not a smooth bottom. We plan to go back again next week and use sonar equipment to try and find the boat," said Officer Cross.

Along with the Rescue Squad, the Sheriff's Department and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency were assisted in the investigation by the DeKalb County Emergency Management Agency.

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