Search for missing canoeist continues

By Kontji Anthony - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Memphis Police Harbor Patrol and Crittenden County responders have joined the US Coast Guard in the search for a missing University of Tennessee professor.

The search began for Grant Somes, 62, around 2 p.m. Thursday.

Church Health Center Executive Director G. Scott Morris has worked with Somes for more than decade.

"When you hear something like this, it takes a little while to sink in," Morris said.

Somes is a statistician, the Chair of the Department of Preventive Medicine at UT and serves the uninsured with Morris.

"A scientist with a heart," Morris said.  "I think that's what defines Grant the best."

The US Coast Guard said Grant and a friend were canoeing across the Mississippi River from Memphis to Arkansas.  The canoe capsized and Somes fell out near Hopewell Chute.

Somes' friend, who was wearing a life vest, swam to the Arkansas shore and called police.  Somes was not wearing a vest.

Morris said Somes' life work centered on promoting active living.

"It's not surprising Grant would be out canoeing," Morris said.

Underneath the seemingly calm surface of the Mississippi River are tree roots, rip currents, rocks and a current up to six miles per hour.

While searchers are holding onto hope that they will find Somes, Morris said his friend's disappearance reminded him of what mattered most in life.

"Friendship, love, compassion, caring for people," Morris said.

Searchers asked that anyone who sees anything that can help with the search to notify your local law enforcement.

Copyright 2010 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.