Two fatalities reported following storm damage

Published 8:24 am Saturday, July 9, 2016

Star Photo/Curtis Carden Emergency officials depart from Fish Spring Marina Friday evening to respond to an incident that claimed the lives of two individuals.

Star Photo/Curtis Carden
Emergency officials depart from Fish Spring Marina Friday evening to respond to an incident that claimed the lives of two individuals.

UPDATE: The Carter County Sheriff’s Department issued a press release Saturday morning about the incident near Fish Springs Marina Friday evening. Below is the release, in its entirety:

“On Friday, July 8, 2016 at approximately 5:58 P.M. Carter County Sheriff.s Officers responded to the Fish Springs Community in reference to a report of a tree that fell on a boat while occupied by persons. Upon arrival, First responders discovered that two individuals were crushed by a tree that had fallen on their campsite located close by. Carter County Sheriff Dexter Lunceford, Chief Deputy James Parrish, as well as Investigators from the Criminal Investigations Division responded to the incident site. Members of the Carter County Rescue Squad were on the scene conducting rescue of the individuals. After extensive rescue operations, the effort changed to a recovery of the persons. The coroner was contacted and arrived on scene where he pronounced the deaths of the two individuals. The decedents were identified as John Paul “JP” Mathes Sr., 60, and his wife Robin, 47, both of the Hampton Community. The investigation revealed that, due to the severe storm that moved through Carter County, high winds caused the tree to break and fall on the campsite, causing the deaths of the couple. As more details become available, we will make them available.”


UPDATE: J.P. Mathes II confirmed in a Facebook post that the man and woman who lost their lives during the storm Friday evening were his father, former Carter County Circuit Court Clerk John Paul Mathes, and his stepmother, Robin Musselwhite Mathes. J.P. Mathes II’s post is shown below:
I am saddened to say that my father John Paul Mathes and stepmother Robin Musselwhite lost their lives last night during the horrendous thunderstorms that came through the area. They were camping on Watauga Lake near Hampton, TN and the wind knocked down a huge tree over their campsite. I would like to thank the rescue crews, law enforcement, local government officials, and friends who helped us through a very tough night which has now turned in to morning. Our family would also like to thank everyone for their thoughts and prayers during this time. Once information concerning the arrangements have been made I will keep everyone posted.

A married couple lost their lives after inclement weather tore through Carter County Friday evening.
Carter County Sheriff Dexter Lunceford confirmed that two individuals lost their lives after a tree fell at a campground near Fish Spring Marina. Names of the individuals were not released by the Sheriff Friday night.
According to scanner reports, rescue workers arrived on scene at Fish Springs Marina to a reported capsized pontoon boat due to a fallen tree. The report indicated that one individual was severely injured while another individual was reported dead at the scene. Lunceford clarified the report, stating the individuals were not on the vessel.
Emergency workers attended to the scene at the marina, managing foot traffic and assisting with the situation.
Along with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA), members of the Carter County Sheriff’s Department and the Carter County Coroner made an attempt to reach the individuals.
Following the first boat’s departure, another boat that included members of the Elk Mills-Poga Volunteer Fire Department set sail from the marina with chainsaws to assistant with the incident.
Bill Sherrill, who was on that lake at the time the storm hit, noticed a pontoon boat he believed to be the one in question.
“I saw a pontoon boat,” Sherrill said. “It was behind us and it was heading towards Butler instead of the marina, trying to out run the storm.”
No further information was provided prior to the Elizabethton Star’s press deadline.