Search for Missing Doctor Suspended - | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Search for Missing Doctor Suspended

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By Chris Cannon

SMITHVILLE, Tenn. – Emergency crews have suspended the search for a missing Nashville doctor who disappeared Sunday evening while kayaking in Center Hill Lake.

55-year- old Dr. William Coltharp, a cardiothoracic surgeon at St. Thomas Hospital in Nashville, was kayaking at Center Hill Lake in DeKalb County, near Hurricane Bridge.

He put his boat in the water around 6:30 Sunday night.

"He told the one witness who talked to him, when he was putting in, he said he liked to come at that time of the evening because the water is the calmest, and it is real smooth," explained Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency officer Mike Beaty.

When Dr. Coltharp did not return home Sunday night, his wife came to Center Hill Lake to look for him. The search officially started just before 2:00 a.m. at the Hurricane Bridge Recreation Area.

"The wife was here, and found the vehicle here, so we gathered officers here and started in the dark down here," Beaty said.

The only clues crews found came early on in their search.

"Around 4 or 5 o'clock this morning we found the kayak on the water floating, no one in it, it was overturned. We found the life jacket there beside it," Beaty said.

The area of the lake where the search is centered is 135 feet deep in some parts.

TWRA, along with the DeKalb County and Putnam County Sheriff's Departments, spent 17 hours searching the lake and surrounding areas for signs of Coltharp before pulling their boats out of the water for the night.

Crews will be back on Center Hill Lake early Tuesday morning using side-scan sonar, underwater cameras, and they'll drag the water, in hopes of finding the doctor.


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