NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - The falls and gorge area at Cummins Falls State Park will remain closed until state officials determine why the implementation of a monitoring system has not been installed.

This announcement came after four lawmakers said on Wednesday they want a warning system installed immediately at the park to warn about flood levels after a 2-year-old boy was swept away and killed earlier this week in the gorge.

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, which oversees the Tennessee State Parks, said the area would remain closed until the matter has been investigated as well as the details surrounding the June 9 incident in which Steven Pierce drowned after being swept away by flood waters.

Trails leading to the falls and gorge will be closed. Trails at the park that do not lead to the gorge will remain open.

Lawmakers Letter about Cummins Falls warning system

On Wednesday, a letter to TDEC from state Sen. Paul Bailey, R-Sparta, and state representatives Cameron Sexton, R-Crossville, Ryan Williams, R-Cookeville, and John Mark Windle, D-Livingston, ask why action has not been taken to get the promised warning system online. The four lawmakers represent the area around the state park.

Steven Pierce

Steven Pierce (Photo submitted)

Three people have been killed in the last two years due to the gorge’s rising flood levels and multiple emergency evacuations have been conducted, putting first responders and visitors at risk.

“In 2017, your department announced plans to install a warning system at Cummins Falls State Park to better monitor the gorge’s rising water levels,” the lawmakers wrote in a joint letter to Jim Bryson, Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Environment and Conservation. “It is now June 2019, another life has been lost, and the warning system has still not been installed. After the last death, it was our understanding that a system would be implemented in an effort to prevent further deaths. Why has this warning system not been installed at Cummins Falls State Park?

“It is past time to make installing a warning system a priority,” the lawmakers continued. “We ask for your immediate attention to this matter and prompt installation of a warning system before more lives are lost.”

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WSMV Digital Content Producer

Joey is an award-winning Digital Content Producer on the WSMV Digital Team! A graduate of the University of South Carolina-Aiken, Joey joined WSMV in September 2018. He's happy to be Working 4 You!

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