Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

October 7, 2013

FFG drowning appears accidental

By Gary Nelson
Senior staffwriter

CROSSVILLE — The Cumberland County Sheriff's Department is investigating the death of a man who drowned in lake St. George while fishing at the marina in the dark in Fairfield Glade late Wednesday night.

Cumberland County Sheriff's Investigator David Gibson said the body of Rudy Harper, 70, of Fairfield Glade was recovered after crews searched for him for several hours.

"It's a very unfortunate accident," Gibson said.

Fairfield Glade Fire Chief Howard Robb said volunteer firefighters responded with aid to the scene at the marina Wednesday night around 11:30 p.m., after Harper's vehicle was discovered by Fairfield Glade Public Safety.

"We assisted with manpower and lighting to help EMS and security at the scene. The sheriff's department is investigating what happened," Robb said.

According to Gibson, a Fairfield Glade Public Safety officer noticed Harper's vehicle parked at the St. George marina in a handicapped parking spot with a door open and he began searching the area for Harper.

Gibson said public safety called Harper's wife who confirmed he was supposed to be at the lake fishing.

After searching for Harper, his body was discovered in the water, underneath one of the boat docks, or boat slips.

Gibson said he was not sure how long Harper had been in the water, or what had happened.

"It may have been that he had some kind of a medical issue, or he may have taken a wrong step and fallen off the pier ... ," Gibson said.

Gibson said he was waiting to review video surveillance from the marina to see if he could determine exactly what happened and at what time.

As of press time Thursday, Gibson had not yet reviewed the video surveillance. Gibson said Harper was dead at the scene and was unsure as to how long he had been in the water when his body was discovered.