I and another guide were up there yesterday when this happened. I had seen this gentleman many times in this section of water. He put in at the handicap access and was trolling upstream in a small jon boat. He usually fishes with a companion but yesterday he was by himself, and appeared to be having trouble with his motor, although it was running well enough to take him upstream and past us headed for the dam where he went out of sight. We did not see him for the rest of the day although we could hear his motor crank and head back upstream. Later at the take out we were met by TWRA, TVA, and local EMS folks and found out what had happened. A couple who were fishing in a much larger boat below the weir were there and they had actually recovered him from the water. The main concern was that he had been fishing with someone else who was unaccounted for. Both ourselves and some workers who were pouring rock at the weir were able to confirm he was by himself.
He had in fact fallen out of the boat above the weir and the low sides and narrow beam of a jon make it almost impossible to climb back in by yourself. Both he and the boat were taken over the weir dam.
TVA has made every effort to keep this type of boat from putting in there. There is no boat ramp save for the locked one used by TVA navigation. They have put in posts and large rocks to keep this from happening after some anglers in a motor boat drove a jeep over the mulch beds to access the closed ramp. This gentleman had a small dolly specifically made to allow him to walk the narrow jon boat between the posts put there by TVA to block access. TVA has made it abundantly clear that they don't allow this type of boat above the weir, or drift boats either for that matter, it is a canoe, kayak, and raft access and boats must be picked up and carried to be allowed in this section.
This is a trajic accident and my heart goes out to his family. He was fishing alone, in fast, deep, cold water. In a boat made for shallow lakes and ponds, with no life jacket and no way to control the craft should the motor fail. This type of accident could have happened anywhere on the river at high water, and there are many, many warning signs posted by TVA to make you aware of that.
It was a tragic accident, plain and simple. You can only make things so safe, no one is to blame.