Authorities locate truck driver swept away by raging water - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Nick Kenney

Authorities locate truck driver swept away by raging water

(Courtesy Shelby County Sheriff's Department) (Courtesy Shelby County Sheriff's Department)

Authorities have located the body of a wrecker driver swept away Tuesday while attempting to pull a car out of a ditch in south Shelby County, investigators with the Shelby County Sheriff's Department said.

Investigators said a Mazda 6 was traveling east on Holmes Road early Tuesday when went into a ditch about a mile east of Reynolds Road.  The driver of the car, 43-year-old Tony Williams of Collierville, managed to get out of the vehicle just as the ditch water began to rise.  He then called for assistance.

A Sheriff’s Deputy was dispatched to the scene, along with two tow trucks from Star Towing in Memphis.  Despite warnings from the Sheriff’s Deputy, investigators said, one of the drivers, identified as Clyde Stewart, attempted to put a hook on the car’s frame.

As Stewart stood on top of the car, it began to move, and Stewart fell into the raging water.  The vehicle traveled about 20 feet into a culvert under Holmes Road.  Investigators said Stewart had tied an air hose around his waist as a makeshift lifeline, but the line was snapped by the force of the water. 

Shelby County Fire Department spokesperson Brent Perkins said rising waters were dangerous.  "The water is powerful," he said. "The best advice is to just stay clear of all these tributaries."

Sheriff’s Deputies, volunteers with the Sheriff’s Office Emergency Services Bureau, the Shelby County Fire Department, and a diver from the DeSoto County Mississippi Sheriff’s Office spent much of Tuesday conducting an "aggressive search" according to Perkins.

Co-workers stood by hoping for the best, but fearing the worst.  Star Towing owner Glen McAlexander called Stewart "very experienced."

"He would go the extra two miles to make sure the job got done," he said.

The search was suspended late Tuesday evening, but resumed again Wednesday morning. 

Stay with WMCTV.com for updates on this story.

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