Waters claim another life
Drowning has claimed the life of a second young man from Carter County in a matter of days, with a
Hampton teenager’s death being investigated by the Carter County Sheriff’s Department and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation after his body was found in a pond Wednesday.
Carter County Sheriff Chris Mathes identified the victim as 19-year-old Colton Oaks, of Williams Street in Hampton.
“We are treating it as a homicide investigation, but it appears to be an accidental drowning,” Mathes said. “We have called in the TBI, and they were on scene with us today, to make sure everything is done right.”
Once Oaks’ body was recovered from the pond, it was examined before being sent to have an autopsy completed. Mathes said “there are no signs of any foul play,” and no injuries were visible on Oaks’ body. “Everything points to it being an accident.”
Mathes said an officer from his department may have been the last person to see Oaks alive.
According to a police report, Deputy Michael Freeman was dispatched to a residence on Vaughn Road at approximately 6 a.m. on a report of trespassing, and during the deputy’s investigation he encountered Oaks. Vaughn Road is in the vicinity of Coleman Road.
“While at this call Deputy Freeman and Mr. Oaks got in an altercation and Mr. Oaks ran from the scene,” said CCSD Lt. Derrick Hamm in the report, adding that Freeman searched the area but was unable to find Oaks.
Mathes said officers first began to suspect that Oaks was in the pond late Tuesday afternoon. Hamm was dispatched to Coleman Road around 5:30 p.m. after a resident called 911 and reported he had found several items which did not belong to him on his property near his cattle pond.
Hamm said in his report that he walked to the pond and found a cellphone, a pair of black Adidas running shoes, a pair of black socks, a pair of gray basketball-type shorts and a brown leather wallet containing Oaks’ identification card.
“Upon further investigation a divot in the mud at the edge of the pond was found that was similar to the shape of a human left foot,” Hamm said in his report.
At that time, Hamm went to the listed address for Oaks in an attempt to find him, but Oaks was not there.
When Oaks could not be found, preparations began to search the pond on Wednesday morning. Mathes said the pond could not be searched Tuesday evening because it was so late when it was determined that Oaks was missing.
“We hoped he would show up somewhere,” he said, adding that there was nothing visible in the pond to lead officers to believe that he was definitely in the water.
Mathes said there were no known sightings of Oaks or contact with him since he fled from officers Tuesday morning. It is not known how long Oaks had been in the pond.
“It appears he dove into the water either to cool off or to hide,” Mathes said. “He went straight down into the muck and it trapped him.”
Mathes described Oaks’ death as “very tragic” and said that “it is suspected he could have been drinking based on the evidence we have.”
On Sunday, authorities found the body of 21-year-old Cody Roberts of Elizabethton near a boathouse on Lake Watauga. Some of Roberts’ personal items were found on the top deck of the boathouse near a railing. His death is also under investigation, but the sheriff had said evidence pointed to “a tragic Memorial Day weekend accident.”
Even when you’re at the deep end, you’re still more than 2,960 feet above sea level. Lifeguards are on duty... read more