CHEROKEE COUNTY, Ala. (WIAT) — Law enforcement are combing the Coosa River after an SUV drove off a boat landing into the river, killing four people, sending two to the hospital, and leaving one missing.
Cherokee County Coroner Jeremy Deaton said just before 7 p.m., 911 got a call that a 2009 Saturn Outlook had entered the river at the Leesburg landing. Someone nearby heard a woman screaming for help and called. Deaton says the woman was also able to call 911 before the SUV went completely into the water.
Minutes later, first responders arrived at the scene and rescued the female victim. She told them there were six others inside the vehicle.
Search and rescue began immediately for the remaining six victims. One more person was rescued alive, suffering from shock and hypothermia.
The SUV was recovered a ways down from where it entered the water by the Cherokee County Rescue Squad Tuesday night. Two of the victim’s bodies were pulled from the SUV; the other two deceased were found in the water. The coroner identified Robert Hardin, Christy Hobson, Dale Kenner and Cheryl Hobson as the victims who died. Deaton says the preliminary cause of death is fresh water drowning.
The search last night was halted around midnight because of the cold temperatures, but resumed Wednesday morning with hopes of finding the last victim.
Bobby Shore is still missing. His family, including a survivor of the crash, is at the scene, hoping and praying that he is found alive. Officials say they believe he is deceased at this point, and their efforts now are to recover his body. The Wednesday search will be called off at dark.
Currently, the Cherokee County Rescue Squad is conducting a grid search for him between the point of entry and what Deaton says is a power house owned by Alabama Power that has turbines that generates electricity. He says Alabama Power shut the turbines down as soon as they were notified of the incident.
He described the search conditions, saying while the water is low in some areas, the SUV was found in 18 feet of water hundreds of yards from the landing due to the strong currents, which he compared to a bath water in a tub pulling back and forth.
Deaton says while the relationship of the victims isn’t immediately clear, they are all related in some way. He also said they all had young children.
At this point in time, officials say the cause of the crash is still under investigation. They were able to say that the vehicle had been driving at a moderate speed for that area before it entered the water.
The family has started a GoFundMe to pay for the expenses related to the unexpected deaths. (https://www.gofundme.com/the-death-of-three-family-members?ssid=839982192&pos=1)