The body of a 31-year-old construction worker was found overnight in the Tennessee River just below the U.S. Highway 41 bridge project at Haletown, Tenn., according to Marion County authorities.
Marion County Sheriff Ronnie “Bo” Burnett said this morning that the body of Abimael Contreras Martinez, of Morrison, Tenn., was found by Coffee County rescue squad members and divers from Winchester, Tenn., around 10:30 p.m. CST Tuesday.
Martinez’s body had been missing since Monday, according to officials.
“Coffee County [personnel] spotted his body about 60 feet deep in the water, about 150 feet from where he fell in,” Burnett said.
Martinez was an employee of one of the subcontractors working on the bridge replacement project alongside the now-closed Marion Memorial Bridge, he said.
According to the family and witnesses, Martinez couldn’t swim and his life preserver came off when he fell in, Burnett said. The sheriff said some rescue workers speculated that the cold water, about 55 degrees at the time, might have contributed to his death.
The sheriff said family members were on the scene throughout the search, and officials tried to keep them up to date.
After Martinez’s body was recovered, it was taken to Grandview Medical Center in Jasper, Tenn., according to officials.
Tennessee Department of Transportation officials and local authorities said Martinez fell into the Tennessee River as he stepped from one barge to another at the bridge construction project site Monday afternoon.
For complete details, see tomorrow’s Chattanooga Times Free Press.
Ben Benton is a news reporter at the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He covers Southeast Tennessee and previously covered North Georgia education. Ben has worked at the Times Free Press since November 2005, first covering Bledsoe and Sequatchie counties and later adding Marion, Grundy and other counties in the northern and western edges of the region to his coverage. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Tenn., a graduate of Bradley Central High School. Benton ...