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Contact: Howard Duncan, 423-569-9778
On Wednesday, April 13, Mr. Godfrey, along with Joshua Breeding and Chad Harbough, was fishing the Big South Fork River when their canoe capsized in some rapids. Breeding and Harbough were able to make it to shore, but Mr. Godfrey was pulled under and believed drowned. This began an intensive search for Mr. Godfrey by personnel from the National Park Service, U. S. Forest Service, Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife and many local volunteers. Working every day with a wide variety of rescue squad members, agency employees, volunteers and friends and family, the search continued. Resources were brought in from as far away as Knoxville, Tennessee, and Bell County, Kentucky. Searches were conducted utilizing ground search teams, dog teams, boats, sonar, underwater cameras and divers. The river was searched extensively between the point of the accident and the Turkey Creek boat ramp. At times heavy flood waters hampered the search, but did not deter the efforts of the many people looking for Mr. Godfrey.
The National Park Service would like to thank and commend the many rescue squad members and volunteers who helped with this search. Rescue squads from McCreary, Wayne, Pulaski, and Bell Counties in Kentucky and Knox and Scott Counties in Tennessee all contributed to the search effort, along with personnel from the Whitley City and Pine Knot volunteer fire departments. Canine search teams from as far away as Eubank, Kentucky, and Sevierville, Tennessee, assisted in search efforts. The dive team from the Knox County, Tennessee, sheriff’s office worked under difficult conditions to help in the search efforts. Local business owner Gary Waters also volunteered his time and his boat in the search. The park worked closely with McCreary County emergency management coordinator Rudy Young and Region 10 manager of the Kentucky Emergency Management Agency, Don Franklin, to bring in all of the resources. The employees of the Big South Fork NRRA and all involved in the search and recovery wish to extend their sympathies to the family of Mr. Godfrey in their time of loss.