TBI identifies body found at Cummins Falls; Woman still missing - WSMV News 4

TBI identifies body found at Cummins Falls; 73-year-old woman still missing

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Peggy McDaniel has been missing since July 5. (WSMV) Peggy McDaniel has been missing since July 5. (WSMV)
The water rescue took place on Tuesday. (WSMV) The water rescue took place on Tuesday. (WSMV)
Officials say the water rose 3 feet in a matter of minutes. (WSMV) Officials say the water rose 3 feet in a matter of minutes. (WSMV)
COOKEVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

A 73-year-old woman is still missing after Jackson County officials rescued about 40 people who were trapped by high waters at Cummins Falls State Park on Wednesday.

Emergency crews arrived on the scene around 1 p.m. after a flash flood rushed through. Officials said the water rose about 3 feet in a matter of minutes.

According to officials, 27 people were trapped on the side of the gorge, three were on an island in the middle of the creek and 10 people were trapped downstream from the falls.

“I’ve never seen water rise that quickly,” said Jackson County EMS Director Keith Bean.

Nine people who were in immediate danger were rescued immediately.

At this point, everyone is accounted for except for 73-year-old Peggy McDaniel.

Officials said McDaniel was with her son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren when the water hit. The family was trying to walk across the creek when they lost grip on her.

Park rangers on the banks were trying to toss them a rope but they could not get it to them.

“They just couldn’t get them the rest of the way across. They were trapped in the middle,” Bean said.

Recovery efforts were suspended Wednesday night due to high water and have continued for the rest of the week.

A rescue crew member broke a rib after falling in water on Wednesday but is OK.

“The water is really swift. A lot of debris coming down. The footing is not good anyway. A few had life jackets on, but swift water, you can’t maneuver," Bean said.

While searching for McDaniels, crews found another woman's body in a remote part of the river around 9 a.m. Thursday. The TBI has identified the woman as 45-year-old Lisa Michelle Tufts-Hillian of Sale Creek, TN. An autopsy will be performed by the Medical Examiner's Office to determine her cause of death. The investigation is ongoing.

Police said they had not received any other reports about missing people after the flooding on Wednesday.

Rescue workers are using drones, kayaks and a helicopter as they continue to search for McDaniel. They resumed their efforts around 7 a.m. Friday. Jackson County EMS said the water is even higher than previous days this week.

The park remains closed as the search continues.

Stay with Channel 4 and WSMV.com for updates on this story.

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