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Severe weather sinks boat on Douglas Lake

High waves — caused by severe weather — recently swamped and sank a boat on Douglas Lake in Jefferson County, which left two occupants in the water swimming to the nearest shore for safety, according to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA).  

On Saturday, June 18 at approximately 12:30 p.m., Jake Ankrom, 27, of Valley View Dr., Knoxville, was operating a 1992 Vision bass boat near the Point 2 marker.

The early afternoon storm created hazardous water conditions and resulted in five-foot waves that crashed over the boat’s gunwales. Ankrom stated that he turned the boat head-on into the waves in an attempt to keep the vessel from taking on more water. 

Waves continued to come over the bow and quickly swamped the boat. 

When the boat’s bow began to rise up, Ankrom abandoned the controls and attempted to use the trolling motor to head for shore. When it became apparent that the boat was going to sink, Ankrom and his 16-year-old cousin swam for the nearest shore about 75 yards away. Both occupants were wearing life jackets, which Ankrom credits to having saved their lives. 

Neither occupant was injured in the accident.

Jefferson County Sheriff Bud McCoig responded to the accident in his personal boat and transported the two boaters to the Lake Shore RV Park on Hwy. 139. TWRA Officer Matt Cameron took a report and is currently investigating the accident. 

The TWRA offers these tips on what to do if caught out in severe weather:

•Have everyone put on a USCG-approved life jacket (PFD). If a PFD is already on, make sure it is secured properly.

•Have your passengers sit on the vessel floor close to the centerline. This is for their safety and to make the boat more stable.

•If possible, head for the nearest shore that is safe to approach. If already caught in a storm, it may be best to ride it out in open water rather than try to approach the shore in heavy wind and waves.

•Head the bow into the waves at a 45-degree angle. Personal watercraft should head directly into the waves.

•If the engine stops, drop an anchor on a line off the bow to keep the bow headed into the wind and reduce drifting while you ride out the storm. In an emergency, a bucket will work as a sea anchor. Without power, a powerboat usually will turn its stern to the waves and could be swamped more easily.