Old Hickory Man Helps Rescue 12 ‘Boat Neighbors’ After Marina Dock Collapse

Published in the February 1921 Issue February 2021 News Roger Fregoso

A dozen people, including children, were sent scrambling when the roof of the A-dock came crashing down at about 8:30 p.m. onto houseboats anchored at the marina on Old Hickory Lake. Occupied houseboats were crushed under the collapsed structure, and some took on water, said Nashville Fire Department spokesperson Kendra Loney.

It was a frightening situation, but all of the people were rescued, none were injured and none had to be taken to the hospital, said Loney.

Multiple Nashville fire crews and office of emergency management conducted a water rescue after the 100-yard-long dock tilted and collapsed, sending tenants running into their houseboats and tossing a couple people into the frigid water, witnesses said.

According to Nashville fire, the accumulation of snow on the roof of the dock caused it to collapse. Several additional docks collapsed at the marina throughout last week which saw a steady dousing of snowfall and ice in the mid-state area.

“The docks are not made to be stable or stationary; they’re actually made to rise with the water and to be fluid with the movement of the water. When you get ice and snow packed on top of these roofs, it causes them to sink, and in this case, caused them to collapse,” said Loney.

She said after the rescues, fire personnel made secondary searches and searched two other docks that were unstable and leaning, to make sure everyone was accounted for and evacuated.

Marina management said they advised all tenants via email not to be on their boats during the winter weather, said Loney. As a result of the collapse, other marinas in the area evacuated their docks, while some removed ice and snow from their dock’s roofs. The U.S. Coast Guard opened an investigation into the Blue Turtle Bay Marina incident.

Emergency personnel were initially dispatched to a call of “building collapsed into water” in the 2000 block of Riverside Drive. Once at the marina, boat crews and OEM divers initiated an immediate water rescue under a steady snowfall.

“We launched Boat 22, Boat 36, OEM launched a boat and OEM’s divers also came out. In addition, Hendersonville Fire Department sent a boat, and a person that was on scene offered our crews to use their pontoon boat,” said Loney.

Old Hickory resident Jeremy Morgan, 39, who lives in nearby apartments, moored a boat at the marina for almost 10 years. A former houseboat owner himself and a boater of 30 years, he earned the nickname, Captain Morgan, from tenants at the marina on the Cumberland River. He said he saw and heard the entire collapse, before he sprung into action.

“I just happened to look out my window right as the dock was very slowly collapsing. And the next thing I knew, we saw the whole thing just fall. I could hear people because I knew a few people were in their boats,” he said. “It was very loud. There was crashing and crumbling, almost a noise you can’t describe.

“I’m an Eagle Scout, so the first thing that came to mind was ‘where’s my pontoon boat keys?’ we’ve got to go get them out” said Morgan. “It was my first instinct.”

A witness to the collapse and a marina tenant, who asked not to be identified, said he was on the dock that night with his wife and grandson to move his houseboat to a safer location because he noticed the dock did not look sturdy.

For more stories like this, please visit: www.mainstreet-nashville.com 

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