Authorities Searching for Missing Rutherford County Man on Center Hill Lake

November 3, 2010
Dwayne Page

A 42 year old Rutherford County man who rented a pontoon boat from Center Hill Marina and set out on the lake Tuesday has gone missing.

Authorities are looking for Joseph Loupe.

Officials of the TWRA, DeKalb County Rescue Squad, and the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department conducted a search on the lake Wednesday afternoon in the general area where Loupe was last seen on Tuesday, about three quarters of a mile from the marina.

According to TWRA Officer Tony Cross, Loupe's boat was spotted unoccupied but still in gear and traveling in a circle, Tuesday afternoon. " He rented the boat around midday Tuesday from Center Hill Marina. Approximately 50 minutes to an hour later, the boat was discovered unoccupied out on the lake, still moving, in gear. He has not been accounted for. Several different agencies are working on it.. We've not officially ruled it a boating accident but we're treating it as such, working side by side with the sheriff's department in DeKalb and Rutherford county."

After getting the boat stopped, an Edgar Evins Marina employee and park ranger began a visual search, scanning the banks and shoreline in the area, before contacting the TWRA.

Officer Cross said there was one sighting of the man on the lake prior to his disappearance. "We had a witness (an employee of Edgar Evins Marina) who saw the rental pontoon and saw that there was a person on board, but he was quite a distance away. He just happened to take notice of it since there is very little boat traffic on the lake right now. He noticed it was a rental pontoon from Center Hill Marina and it looked like one person was on the boat but nothing appeared to be amiss."

TWRA officers scanned the banks by boat throughout the afternoon and dragging operations by the rescue squad continued until dark, but to no avail. The search is being conducted near where the boat was found in about 110-145 feet of water

Officer Cross said the search is expected to resume Thursday. If you have information contact the DeKalb County Sheriff's Department at 597-4935.

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