Authorities identify 2-year-old Cummins Falls drowning victim

Tennessee

JACKSON COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – The search ended Monday morning for a missing toddler following a massive water rescue operation at Cummins Falls in Jackson County. 

2-year-old Steven Pierce of Eddyville, Kentucky was recovered after search efforts resumed at 6 a.m Monday. 

Crews from over two dozen agencies assisted with the search for Pierce. He was recovered at approximately 7:12 a.m., according to Jackson County Emergency Management.

Officials said the boy was with his parents, who also had to be rescued. 

The Putnam County Rescue Squad’s Swiftwater team said crews conducted water rescues Sunday at Cummins Falls at the request of Jackson County. 

According to Jackson County officials, a large rush of water left numerous park-goers stranded at and in the water.

At least 50 victims were escorted out under their own power while 13 were rescued by swift water teams. 

Officials said 63 total people were saved from the water. 

Rescue crews called off the search at nightfall Sunday night and the mission resumed around 6 a.m. Monday morning. 

Cummins Falls in Jackson County, Tennessee, is one of the most beautiful locations in all of Middle Tennessee.  

Its beauty draws tens of thousands of people to the park each year, but it can also be a very dangerous place as witnessed in July 2017 when a flash flood roared through the gorge.  

“It was almost the perfect storm,” said Park Manager Ray Cutcher. “It dropped about three inches of rain in a very short period of time. Eye witnesses at the bottom at the time said they looked up and there was a wall of water coming over the waterfall, and within minutes, water was surrounding them and they were trapped where they were.” 

A total of 48 people were rescued that day, some of which by a Tennessee Highway Patrol helicopter that happened to be in the area.  

The pilot hovered just feet above the rushing water in the narrow gorge and removed people trapped on boulders in midstream.  

Two people drowned that day, including one woman who came on her own to help the rescue operation.  

After the flood, Tennessee state parks strengthened its communication with the National Weather Service.  

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