NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — As boaters get ready to hit the water this Labor Day, the TWRA is ready to respond to any boating incidents or drownings with its ROV technology. So far this year, Tennessee has seen 25 boating fatalities.
“It’s like shining a flashlight at the bottom of the river, the bottom of the lake,” TWRA Boating Investigator Matt Majors said.
The ROV allows first responders to quickly locate someone. From there, divers can follow the teacher down and make the recovery, or if need be, the device can grab on and pull someone to the surface.
“We can tell the divers before they ever go down there, this is how deep the item is, this is how cold the water is, there’s entanglement hazards, there’s current. And they use all that information to best build their plan to go down,” Majors said.
In addition to recovering bodies, this technology has also been useful in solving crimes. It’s even able to go to the bottom of the lake and pick up firearms.
The TWRA has used ROV technology for the last decade and it has helped locate roughly 100 bodies in the state.
“We are there for the families because we want some speedy closure to these very tragic events. And so those hugs, those people that put their arm around my shoulder and say thank you,” Majors said. “I know they’re telling the truth. And I can still see many of those people who looked me in the eye and gave me that heartfelt thank you.”
Each ROV costs between $100,000 and $200,000 and some have been paid for through grants. Currently, Tennessee has three ROVs placed throughout the state.