A Ripley man has been missing in the flooded Cotton Lake bottoms since Saturday and rescuers are having a hard time locating him the sheriff's office announced Wednesday night.
On Saturday, Tipton County Sheriff’s deputies, along with the Covington Police Department and Covington Fire Department personnel responded to the area of Neal Road, in northeast Tipton County, after two men were swept away in the high waters.
The call came in just before midnight that 47-year-old Kenya Williams and another man fell into a creek near Neal Road. Semi-private, the road is also known as "Spray Paint Road" and is a popular hang-out spot.
The second man, who has not been identified by the sheriff's office, reportedly jumped in after Williams and eventually was in a fight for his own life.
Covington Police Department officers were first on scene and found him holding onto a large culvert that was full of rushing flood water.
"Officers were able to pull him safely to dry ground by using the officer’s duty belt," Sheriff Pancho Chumley said in a press release. "The man later stated at one point he was holding onto his friend, Kenya Williams, but the strong current pulled him from his grip. He said the last time he saw Williams he had been pulled under water by the current and possibly through the culvert."
On Saturday, more than 3.5 inches of rain fell in the Covington area. The ground is saturated by a rainy fall and winter season.
The search for Williams continued into Monday without result. Search crews from the Covington Fire Department, Tipton County EMA, Tipton County Emergency Unit, Lauderdale County Emergency Unit, THP Aviation, Tennessee Task Force 1 and TWRA have assisted in the search and rescue efforts.
Throughout the search, these organizations utilized the resources of cadaver canines, sonar equipment, aviation, maritime and Hydratrek amphibious machinery, the sheriff said.
“We will continue our efforts until we feel certain we have exhausted all means of locating Mr. Williams. We have continued with periodic searches since Monday however, the Hatchie River has begun to rise even more and water is dangerously high. It looks as if we are facing the threat of more severe weather (Thursday) which will only hinder our efforts and prolong our search.
"I am very proud of the work and resources that each of these agencies offered and their tireless efforts that have gone into this unfortunate and tragic situation. I also want to commend the Covington Police Officers that were first on the scene. They put their own lives in danger and pulled Mr. Smith from the culvert before he could be swept away and likely becoming a victim as well."
If anyone has additional information in this case, please call the Criminal Investigations Division at 901-475-3300, Central Dispatch after hours at 901-475-4300, phone in tips at 901-475-3307, email tips to email@example.com or Facebook Sheriff J.T. Pancho Chumley. Anonymous tips may be submitted to the Tipton County tip411 app or by texting “Tipton” to 847411.