Morristown boy dies in Grainger Co. marina electrical accident

Morristown boy dies in electrical accident at Grainger County marina

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The accident was reported at the German Creek Dock Store. The accident was reported at the German Creek Dock Store.
The boat was a 36-foot-long 1973 Gibson fiberglass houseboat. (source: Grainger County Sheriff's Office) The boat was a 36-foot-long 1973 Gibson fiberglass houseboat. (source: Grainger County Sheriff's Office)
Noah Winstead (source: family) Noah Winstead (source: family)

BEAN STATION (WATE) - An electrical accident on July 4 at a Cherokee Lake marina left a 10-year-old Morristown boy dead and an 11-year-old boy in critical condition.

Officials say Noah Winstead, 10, of Morristown, was killed on his birthday.

The accident also injured eight other people who were trying to save the victims. They were a mix of family members and people at the marina.

It was reported Wednesday afternoon at the German Creek Dock Store, 155 Muskogee Lane, in Bean Station.

Winstead and the 11-year-old boy from Morristown swam between house boats, and they were climbing a ladder onto a boat when they were shocked, according to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.

"We believe some way or another, the electricity got into the metal of the boat. When the children touched the metal ladder to get in, that's when the electrocution occurred," said Grainger County Sheriff Scott Layel.

Both boys were taken to Morristown Hamblen Hospital, where Winstead was pronounced dead. The 11-year-old was flown to East Tennessee Children's Hospital in Knoxville in critical condition.

The girl was taken to Children's Hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

The boat is owned by the 11-year-old boy's grandfather, Michael Voccola. He jumped in the water and was kept at Lakeway Regional Hospital overnight. The boy's grandmother, Denise Voccola, was treated for minor injuries to her fingers.

Kelly and Travis Lynam are the parents of the hospitalized boy. Travis was treated and released from a hospital.

The family all lives at the same address in Morristown. Noah Winstead was a friend of the family.

Witnesses said while they were in the boat, they heard the children's cries of distress and saw two unconscious boys and a girl in the water near the boat.

Three adults entered the water and tried to rescue the children, but they were incapacitated by a stray electrical current. One of those is Paul Worley, a friend of the family, who's from California.

Other friends and family members were able to remove the children from the water, one onto a boat and the others onto the dock.

The bystanders began CPR on the boys and delivered them to members of Grainger County EMS on shore.

Two other adults and another child were also shocked while making rescue attempts.

"Someone started hollering the kids are getting electrocuted, and people jumped into the water. My son and brother helped get the one little boy out. They gave him CPR and everything. I was comforting the parents the best I could," explained Betty Hamilton, a witness at the scene.

At least two other people were treated at the scene, but not taken to a hospital.

"A lot of other good people were trying to help. That's really admirable for someone to put their life on the line to save someone else. That's very commendable," Sheriff Layel said.

The marina was evacuated Wednesday. Appalachian Electric Cooperative arrived and shut off all the power.

The boat was a 36-foot-long 1973 Gibson fiberglass houseboat. The dock was cordoned off for about six hours while investigators tried to determine the source of the electrical current.

Cooperative employees confirmed that no cooperative equipment or materials were involved in the accident. The utility says electric power to the marina itself is a secondary service past the metered point of ownership.

TWRA has contacted a marine surveyor with electrical expertise to help identify the source of the stray current.

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