MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Early Tuesday morning rescue teams got their boats back in the Tennessee River, continuing the search for two 15-year-old boys and a 43-year-old parent chaperone who were reported missing Sunday night.
“We hope that they are found alive and doing well,” Barry Kendall, Principal Obion County Central High School. “So we are holding out all optimism and all hope that’s going to be the case.”
The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency says professional search teams went out in 30 boats and more than 100 volunteers showed up, many bringing boats with them, to help search in dangerous water levels.
“People risking their life for a couple boys, not just a couple boys but our boys, I just offer up my prayers, my thankfulness,” Kendall said.
“That they are out there giving their time, their efforts for some boys for Obion County and a dad, we thank you so much for that,” Tony Jones, a local youth pastor said.
The TWA says there’s been some improvement in search conditions Tuesday.
Water levels on the Tennessee River are lowering and the TVA has decreased the output of the Pickwick Dam to allow search teams to have less current to handle while searching.
Teams are focusing their search where the 20-foot bass boat the missing boaters were using was located, about 13 miles past the Pickwick Dam.
The TWRA says the search was called off at dusk again Tuesday for safety reasons and will resume again in the morning.
It’s difficult for students at Obion County Central High School to focus on schoolwork with two of their classmates missing.
“It made for a tough day, a solemn day,” Kendall said.
Meanwhile, on the Tennessee River, the search for two boys and their parent chaperone who went missing Saturday during a local club fishing tournament started back up around 7:30 Tuesday morning.
“That’s about a 2 and a half-hour drive and for 100 boats or more to go down and be willing to get in rough waters and do tough work, dangerous work, that says a lot about the people of this community,” Kendall said.
The community has done more than volunteer in the search, local churches have put together lunches for hungry search teams, others have donated winter clothing to keep them warm, and Monday night, more than 300 people came to a prayer vigil held at the high school.
“We surrounded the bass fishing team, those other anglers who were a part of this tournament and prayed for them, laying hands on them, just saying we’re here for you we’re praying for you,” Jones said.
“That’s what makes Obion County great, we are a tight-knit group,” Kendall said.
Barry Kendall says they’ve brought in extra counselors from nearby schools to provide support for the Obion County High School students.
“We’re just here to try to give them everything they need to cope with the situation,” Kendall said.
Local youth pastor Tony Jones also brought by his emotional support dog to help alleviate their stress.
“Macy has just been a partner for me today to get students to kind of open up and talk somewhat,” Jones said.
Through all the hard work, the community is holding onto hope of a safe return for the 3 missing members of the community.
“We’re praying for a miracle. We believe that can happen,” Jones said.
The Obion County Community says they’re looking for monetary donations to help the families of those missing.